Drug clearinghouse snares 8,000 violations since January startup

Close to 8,000 positive substance abuse tests and more than 650,000 registrations have been recorded in the first seven weeks of the federal Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The secure online database, designed to close a gap that has allowed drivers testing positive for substance abuse to get back behind the wheel for a different company, ran into problems at startup on Jan. 6 as a result of registrants overloading the system. The initial snags have since been ironed out.

“We’ve seen encouraging results from the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there’s still work to do to ensure we identify more drivers who should not be behind the wheel,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen in a statement Friday. “The clearinghouse is a positive step, and the agency continues to work closely with industry, law enforcement, and our state partners to ensure its implementation is effective.”

One hurdle still to be cleared is getting more drivers to register. Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of driver recruiter DriverReach, recently told a trucking conference panel that over 90% of drivers applying for jobs have yet to register.

Taking on drug abuse — particularly opioids — has been a priority in the Trump administration, according to FMCSA. “President Trump has brought attention to the nation’s opioid crisis by declaring it a nationwide public health emergency and has implemented critical federal initiatives to help reduce opioid abuse.”

As a reminder, the agency emphasized that those required to register for the clearinghouse include:

  • Employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders, or their designated service agents, and medical review officers who report drug and alcohol program violations that occurred on or after January 6, 2020;
  • Employers or their designated service agents who conduct required queries which inform them whether prospective or current employees have drug and alcohol program violations in their clearinghouse records (employers must purchase a query plan before conducting queries in the clearinghouse – query plans must be purchased from the FMCSA clearinghouse website only);
  • Drivers who respond to employer consent requests or would like to view their clearinghouse record when applying for a job;
  • Substance abuse professionals who report on the completion of driver initial assessments and driver eligibility for return-to-duty testing for violations committed on or after January 6, 2020.

The FMCSA’s clearinghouse website provides registration details and other resources.