Time is running short on new requirements that will affect all drivers who either hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or want one.
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse goes live on January 6, 2020, followed five weeks later by the Entry-Level Driver Training rules on February 7, 2020.
Here’s what you and your CDL drivers will need to do to comply with the two rules, and when. Keep in mind that neither regulation will apply to non-CDL drivers (unless they decide to get a CDL).
Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Timeline
Before January 6, 2020:
❑ Register with the Clearinghouse, online at clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov, and encourage your drivers to do the same. Drivers will need to register if they change employers, want to see their own report, or have a DOT drug or alcohol violation.
❑ Update your company policy and the educational materials you provide new CDL drivers, so they know how they will be affected (see §382.601(b)(12)).
❑ Inform all existing CDL drivers about the types of information that will be reported to the Clearinghouse and how they will be affected, including their obligation to grant consent for you to query the Clearinghouse.
❑ Purchase a “query plan” from the Clearinghouse website, to pre-pay for the required searches.
Starting January 6, 2020:
❑ Run a “full” query in the Clearinghouse for each new CDL driver-applicant. Applicants must first register on the Clearinghouse website and grant their electronic consent. Retain each Clearinghouse report for three years, even for drivers who are not hired.
❑ Do not allow any driver to perform safety-sensitive functions if:
- A Clearinghouse report (when you are required to get one) shows that the driver violated a drug or alcohol prohibition and has not completed the return-to-duty process; or
- The driver refuses to grant consent for you to query the Clearinghouse when required.
❑ Report the following information to the Clearinghouse by the close of the third business day after obtaining the information:
- Alcohol test results of 0.04 or greater;
- Refusals to take an alcohol test;
- Refusals to take a drug test, where the MRO is not involved in making the determination;
- “Actual knowledge” (defined in §382.107) that a driver has used alcohol on duty (including a traffic citation for DUI/DWI in a commercial vehicle), used alcohol within four hours of coming on duty, used alcohol prior to post-accident testing, or has used a controlled substance;
- Negative return-to-duty test results (if the underlying violation occurred on or after January 6, 2020); and
- Completion of follow-up testing (if the underlying violation occurred on or after January 6, 2020).
❑ Obtain written consent from each CDL driver to run “limited” annual queries, if desired (you can get this consent before or after January 6, 2020). A limited query will only tell you whether there’s a Clearinghouse record for a driver, not what’s on it. The benefit is that a limited consent can last for the length of employment, whereas drivers must log in to the Clearinghouse website to grant consent for each “full” query.
Need a “limited query” consent form or an educational handout for drivers? Find them in your online subscription at JJKellerLibrary.com!
❑ Continue to ask driver-applicants’ previous employers for information about any drug or alcohol testing violations, per §391.23(e). This requirement will go away on January 6, 2023.
Between January 6, 2020, and January 5, 2021, and annually after that:
❑ Query the Clearinghouse for each existing CDL driver.
- Each subsequent query must be completed within 365 days of the prior one.
- If you choose to run a “limited” query and it shows that the driver has a Clearinghouse record, you must run a “full” query within 24 hours, after the driver logs in to the Clearinghouse to grant consent. If you are unable to run the full query within 24 hours, then the driver must stop performing all safety-sensitive functions until you complete the query.
❑ Keep a record of each query and all information received in response, for three years.
Entry-Level Driver Training Timeline
Before February 7, 2020:
❑ Continue to comply with the “old” entry-level training rules in Part 380, Subpart E, for any driver with less than one year of experience operating a vehicle that requires a CDL. You must have proof of this required training if the individual will drive a CDL-class vehicle for you before February 7th.
❑ Inform drivers of the new training rules in Part 380, Subpart E. Drivers should obtain their commercial learner’s permit (CLP), upgrade their CDL, or obtain their hazmat (H), passenger (P), or school bus (S) endorsement before this date if they want to avoid being subject to the new training requirements.
On and after February 7, 2020:
❑ You may stop performing (or verifying) entry-level training under the old rules in Part 380, Subpart E. If you hire a driver who already holds a valid CDL or CLP but has less than one year of CDL driving experience, the driver is not required to have entry-level training under either the old or new rules (unless he/she later wants to upgrade the license or obtain an endorsement).
❑ Inform any driver who wants to obtain or upgrade to a Class A or Class B CDL or CLP, or obtain an H, P, or S endorsement, that he or she will need entry-level training from a provider listed on the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.
❑ Make sure that any CLP holder who was “grandfathered” under the new training rules obtains his or her CDL before the CLP expires. Otherwise, entry-level training will be required.
Key to remember: The compliance deadlines for the new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and Entry-Level Driver Training rules are just around the corner. Make sure you know what your responsibilities will be.
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