FMCSA stresses MRO guidelines after D/A Clearinghouse reboot

Physicians licensed for reviewing drug test results should now be reporting violations that were verified on or after March 5 following connection problems within the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The FMCSA notified the industry on Tuesday that issues connecting the clearinghouse to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System, which prevented commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) from being validated, had been resolved.

Employers needing to conduct pre-employment queries had been allowed in the interim to hire a driver by contacting previous employers.

The agency emphasized in an alert that medical review officers (MROs) “should make every effort” to verify CDL information. It noted that if the driver’s CDL number has special characters, such as spaces or dashes, the MRO should try entering the CDL number with or without these characters because requirements vary by state.

“If, after multiple attempts using the tips above, you are not able to verify the driver CDL information, you may proceed with reporting the violation information. FMCSA will reconcile the violation at a later date.”

The agency warned that if an error is made entering the CDL information after submitting a drug test violation, the violation must be deleted and re-entered using the correct CDL. “This will help ensure that the clearinghouse provides employers with the information they need to make important decisions about which drivers to place in safety-sensitive functions, and which to remove,” FMCSA stated.

It also stressed that MROs are required to report into the clearinghouse only positive results of FMCSA-required tests, adding that MROs should not report:

  • Results of tests that are not required by FMCSA regulations
  • Dilute results that did not test positive for a controlled substance
  • Negative test results

“The only negative test result reported to the Clearinghouse is a negative return-to-duty result, which is reported by the employer or their designated consortium/third-party administrator,” FMCSA stated.

The agency reminded MROs that they must report results within two business days of making a drug test determination or verification. “Any changes to the results report of a verified drug test must be reported to the clearinghouse within one business day of making the changes.”