The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a proposal that would extend the date of compliance for the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule. The Clearinghouse rule was set to become operational on January 6, 2020, however the FMCSA recently published a notice that would extend the deadline for compliance to January 6, 2023.
The Clearinghouse is a database of commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders found to have violated FMCSA drug and alcohol testing rules. The Clearinghouse was established to improve roadway safety by identifying drivers who have committed drug and alcohol violations. Specifically, it requires FMCSA-regulated employers to check the database to determine whether current or prospective employees have committed violations that render them ineligible to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
Employers must search the database prior to hiring workers and at least once a year for current employees. Employers and medical review officers must also report information regarding positive drug test results, alcohol test results greater than .04 blood alcohol content (BAC), refusals to submit to testing, and other violations of the FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations. Under the rule, substance abuse professionals (SAPs) are also required to report information about drivers who are participating in the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.
The Clearinghouse was designed to prevent situations in which drivers conceal drug and alcohol violations by switching jobs. Those who commit drug and alcohol violations will not be granted CDL licenses regardless of whether they move on to another job or to another state. Their record in the Clearinghouse will remain and they are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions until they can satisfy the FMCSA return-to-duty requirements.
The annual number of large truck and bus accidents continues to increase, according to the FMCSA. In 2017, the most recent reporting year, 4,889 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes – up nine percent from 2016 and 42 percent from 2009. There are various causes for these fatal truck accidents, including drowsy driving, inexperience, and road conditions. One of the most common causes, however, is drug and alcohol use.
Commercial truck drivers operate large trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds and are therefore held to a higher standard when it comes to drunk driving. According to FMCSA regulations, truck drivers may not consume alcohol within four hours of their shift and can be charged with a DUI if their BAC is just .04 percent or higher. Motor carriers are also required to implement drug and alcohol testing programs that include screening potential employees for drug or alcohol use:
Employers who fail to comply with the drug testing requirements may be held if hiring a driver who tested positive subsequently causes an accident. Those who were injured in a truck accident should contact a qualified local attorney to discuss their legal options and ensure that their rights are protected.
If you were injured by a drunk or drugged driver, contact a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer at Galfand Berger LLP. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including those in the Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, Allentown, and Harrisburg areas. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online contact form.