Beginning Monday, January 6, the federal government has begun overseeing how fleets perform background checks on prospective employees and owner-operators within the trucking industry. Under the banner of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database of drivers who have failed or refused a drug test at some point in their job search in the industry will be stored and curated.
Fleets of all sizes will be required to input this information into the database for all new driver hires as well as on a yearly basis for existing drivers.
The Clearinghouse was set up to help trucking companies be safe from hiring employees who have been hit with fines and violations in the past related to drug and alcohol offenses. While having resources to tap into, such as commercial truck insurance to provide the funds needed for legal coverage and settlements, is important, it’s even more important to avoid major fees and violations by staying true to the law at hand.
If trucking companies violate these terms and regulations, it can spell major legal trouble for them as well as reputationally.
Here’s a better look at what to expect from the new Clearinghouse requirements.
Fleets currently are required to call prospective drivers’ prior fleets in order to perform thorough background checks. The fleets are required by law to perform this contact to inquire about failed drug tests. However, there have been some discrepancies in the past that have left the door open for drivers with checkered pasts to get back behind the wheel and possibly cause more trouble.
Fleets can skip over making this kind of inquiry and not be held accountable. What’s more, a prior employer might not provide truthful information regarding the driver in question.
Beginning on January 6, information on drivers will be available, showing drivers who have been cited for violating alcohol laws specific to trucking. There will also be information and resources available on whether a driver has completed the correct return-to-duty process after a positive drug test.
Independent owner-operators have always been required to participate in a drug-testing program or another third-party administrator program. With the new Clearinghouse rules, these operators will need to register as a company instead, and need to designate a consortium to handle the annual queries required by all CDL holders.
Drug testers will be responsible for inputting any positive drug tests into the new system.
These professionals will need to create a clearinghouse account, although it’s not required. But any truck driver will need an account to switch between fleets due to the new fleet needing to inquire about that record specifically. Having an account will help the driver ensure there’s no mistakes or inaccurate information on their record.
When switching between carriers, leased owner-operators will need to authorize fleets to run a query on their CDL within the clearinghouse database.
Full compliance with clearinghouse regulations is mandatory, no matter the size of the fleet. Even small, two-truck fleets will have to comply by performing a full query on every new driver. Small fleets will have to register as an employer in the database and purchase queries at $1.25 apiece. These small carriers can take care of the administrative duties either in-house or through third-party outsourced drug screenings.
By the beginning of the new rules on January 6, fleet policies must post that any positive drug tests, refusals, and alcohol violations will be submitted into the clearinghouse database.
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