Roadside inspectors have access to a driver’s Clearinghouse status

April 2020 OOS Criteria to pull drivers off the road for unresolved testing violations

Roadside inspection personnel were recently given access to information residing in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

During a roadside inspection, enforcement will query a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) using existing software (Query Central or CDLIS). Both systems are linked to the Clearinghouse to indicate whether a driver has an unresolved FMCSA testing violation.

An unresolved violation refers to an FMCSA drug or alcohol testing violation occurring since January 6, 2020, that does not show a completed substance abuse professional program and/or negative return-to-duty test.

In those instances, the driver’s status will come back as a violation of 49 CFR Part 390.3, “Prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions per 382.501(a) in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.”

What happens next to cited drivers?

Prior to April 1, 2020, the driver is cited, and the inspection report is forwarded to the local FMCSA office for follow-up action, unless the state has adopted its own out-of-service procedures.

However, beginning April 1, 2020, when the new Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria is in effect, the driver will be placed out of service.

The FMCSA is expected to update its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) methodology to include this roadside inspection violation in its severity table.

Motor carrier’s responsibilities

Drivers are required to notify employers of FMCSA testing violations occurring outside of the employer’s program. If a driver fails to notify his or her current employer, the violation could go undetected until the annual query of the Clearinghouse.

If the motor carrier is up to date on the driver’s queries — and is unaware of the violation because the driver failed to tell the company — this will come to light in the event of an investigation. The motor carrier is not in violation.

However, once the roadside inspection reveals the driver has a “prohibited” status in the Clearinghouse, the employer needs to act. The carrier now has actual knowledge of a violation.

The driver cannot perform a safety-sensitive function until the issue is resolved. The carrier will have to request a full query of the Clearinghouse to learn details if it wants to begin the steps in Part 40 to return the driver to duty.

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

Expert Help Icon

Have a compliance question for Kathy? The J. J. Keller Expert Help tool provides you direct access to Kathy and other trusted experts to help answer your toughest compliance questions.