Are You Prepared for the FMCSA Policy Change?

October 20, 2021 by Verified First

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In 2019, 10,142 people lost their lives due to drunk-driving car accidents. According to the NHTSA, that number is the lowest death toll since 1982. With so many lives lost on the road, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) takes obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) seriously for both employers and employees. 

This month, the administration changed a specific policy within the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse that affects both workers and employers. The FMCSA is now mandating that state driver’s licensing agencies deny the issuance, renewal, upgrade, or transfer of any CDL or CLP if the person has an unresolved violation in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This mandate will go into effect on November 8th, 2021. Up until now, it was at the discretion of the employer to deny a person with drug or alcohol violations from obtaining a CDL or CLP.  A recent audit conducted by the NHTSA found that some employers were misusing that rule and allowing employees with tainted records to drive company vehicles.

So what does that mean for your business? In order to prepare you for the FMCSA policy change, we’re breaking down the new CDL and CLP changes so your organization can stay compliant. 

What is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a database that provides employers and government agencies with access to all of the drug and alcohol violations of any driver with a CDL. An employer can register their business within the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The database contains all violations, whether current or resolved, of any worker with a CDL. 

The current ruling changes the way the status of a violation is detailed. Those CDL/ CLP drivers holding a violated status will have their licenses downgraded and status updated in Clearinghouse. The way to have a prohibited status (the status of a worker with a drug or alcohol violation) removed and restored is the same as the previous policy. Drivers must complete this return-to-duty process:

  • Evaluation by a substance abuse professional
  • Completed education/treatment
  • Negative return-to-duty test

How will my business be affected by this new FMCSA change? 

An employer now has an added responsibility under the rule change. Before, it was required for employers who are aware of a driver’s alcohol or drug violation based on a DUI citation to report the information into the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The new rule adds to the old by barring an employer from removing the violation from their employee’s permanent record for up to five years unless the driver has successfully completed the return-to-duty process.

Likewise, employees will be affected by the change. The previous policy that gives drivers the ability to dispute a non-conviction remains intact. However, drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence but were never convicted will not be able to remove the information from Clearinghouse. The non-conviction refers to a previous incident in which a driver was arrested for substance abuse on the job but was never convicted of the crime. Their record will be stored in Clearinghouse but clearly state that they were not convicted. This gives insight into the driver’s history to future employers and the chance to ask the driver about their non-conviction before hiring.

This new rule affects both ends of the workforce as the employer and employees have changing personal responsibilities. Each state has until November 2024 to comply, but every employer should stay up-to-date with their state’s policy integration timeline. If not, you could risk heavy fines or legal trouble for not conforming to the rule change in a timely manner.

What can I do to help stay compliant?

Keeping with new rules starts with compliantly hiring quality people that care about keeping themselves and others safe when on the road. If you’re a business that utilizes drivers, you need to compliantly and thoroughly find the best candidates for your business. Verified First specializes in pre-employment and recurrent screenings, and all are housed within one platform for easy use. We can help your company vet candidates throughout the hiring  process. We’ll take care of the transportation screening services such as:

  • DOT Employment Verification (Drug, Alcohol, and Safety)
  • PSP Crash and Inspection History
  • Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS)
  • Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR)
  • Clearinghouse searches

Verified First will ensure that your drivers are compliant with standards before they hit the road. We’re constantly reviewing the changes in compliance regulations and keeping our clients updated. 

FMCSA Policy Change Conclusion:

The new FMCSA policy is a step toward creating a safer road space for all drivers by enforcing a more strict ban on CDL and CLP licenses for those with a drug and alcohol violation. Verified First can help you stay compliant with FMCSA standards by screening your candidates before they become new hires. If you’re interested in learning more about our transportation clearing services, schedule a free consultation with us.

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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