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Seven Key Changes To The DOT Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse

Michigan Department of Transportation
Are you registered for the new clearinghouse database?

Are You Ready For The DOT Drug And Alcohol Clearinghouse? 7 Keys To Help You Prepare

Are you an employer or employee in the Department of Transportation? 

Then you’ve heard about the change that’s coming in 2020… but perhaps you’re confused about when it entails.

Below we’ll share our seven key takeaways for employers and employees in the transportation sector. By the end of this article, you’ll feel much more prepared for the changes.

This does require your immediate attention!

A New Online Database For Recording DOT Drug Testing And Violations

Beginning January 6, 2020, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) will be enforcing that their employers report alcohol and drug violations by drivers to the FMCSA using the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database.

If you are a DOT employer it is recommended that you establish a working relationship with a DOT SAP (substance abuse professional) provider such as our own Sheila Day. 

Click for more details on her upcoming seminars and availability to speak to your team to ensure that your workplace is not in danger of receiving fines or penalties.

So… What Is A Clearinghouse?

A clearinghouse is a central agency for the collection, classification, and distribution of information.

The new Clearinghouse database provides a user-friendly method of keeping tabs on drug and alcohol tests, records, reports and regulations for employers and drivers in the DOT. 

It’s simple and efficient. It just takes a little getting used to. 

“The Clearinghouse database will improve highway safety by helping employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement to quickly and efficiently identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations.

“This secure online database will provide access to real-time information, ensuring that drivers committing these violations complete the necessary steps before getting back behind the wheel, or performing any other safety-sensitive function.”

When this online system is implemented in the DOT it will allow for employers to update and share valuable information on current and prospective drivers.

Seven Key Takeaways To Know About The Clearinghouse 

Just in case you aren’t one for translating all of the lawful jargon out there,

we put together seven key takeaways about the FMSCA Clearinghouse that will help you feel ready for the new changes. Without further ado…

  1. It’s not complicated. It’s just new.

The implementation of the Clearinghouse database will not change any existing drug and alcohol program requirements. The Department of Transportation procedures for workplace drug and alcohol testing will remain as they are. Details on these requirements can be found here:

Mandatory use of the Clearinghouse for drug and alcohol tests, reports and records, will make it easier for FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement to keep everyone safe from drug and alcohol related incidents.  

  1. The database is interactive and must be updated in real time.

Employers are required to update the Clearinghouse database with reports of violations by an employee or prospective employee. These reports inform the database about if and when a driver can perform their duties safely, efficiently and lawfully. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be able to investigate and access Clearinghouse information for drivers involved in an accident.

Drivers can request corrections to their Clearinghouse record, though the driver cannot alter already recorded test results or any test refusals.

  1. You are accountable. 

Any false information on a driver submitted to the database by their employer may make the employer subject to criminal and/or civil penalties. 

This can be avoided by simply being thorough and precise in your reports. 

The FMCSA will remove information from the driver’s Clearinghouse record that is determined to be false. The FMCSA will ensure that all records are accurate and up to date.

Here are some examples of things that employers must report to the Clearinghouse: 

  • An alcohol confirmation test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.
  • A negative return-to-duty test result.
  • The driver’s refusal to submit to a DOT test for drug or alcohol use.
  • An “Actual knowledge” violation. 
  • A report that the driver successfully completed all follow-up tests as ordered by the Substance Abuse Professional.

4. Drivers have access

Clearinghouse records are available electronically to all drivers in the Department of Transportation including:

● Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including passenger


● Limousine drivers (16 or more passengers, including driver)

● School bus drivers

● Federal and State agencies that employ drivers subject to FMSCA

drug and alcohol testing regulations

● Construction equipment operators

● Municipal vehicle drivers (i.e. Waste Management). 

If you’re a driver, just register yourself in the Clearinghouse database and access all of your current information.

5. Stay informed.

Whenever information about a driver is added, revised, or removed, the Clearinghouse will automatically notify that driver by mail using the address on your CDL. The driver may elect to change this by registering in the Clearinghouse database and opting to receive electronic notifications. 

6. As a CDL driver… 

if you commit a violation your violation records will be available to authorized employers in the Clearinghouse database for 5 years from the date of the violation or until you complete the return-to-duty process. 

7. Non-compliance is grounds for penalties.

Just to reiterate, Clearinghouse regulations require employers to address and report information regarding their CDL (Commercial Drivers License) drivers. Failure to report CDL drivers violations may result in penalties and fines.

Less than 5 months from now employers within the DOT will be required to perform an online search of the Clearinghouse for violations that would prohibit drivers or prospective drivers from driving a Commercial Motor Vehicle. 

Safety First

This is all for the purpose of optimizing safety measures for CDL holders and better protecting everyone else on the road. It also ensures that employers and drivers within the DOT are in compliance with updates on Clearinghouse regulations.

This is a database with real-time, day to day information about driver drug and alcohol history and ensures that drivers are doing their jobs safely and effectively.

Ignorance Of The Law Is No Excuse

Together, we can make sure you’re compliant to all new federal regulations.

We recommend updating your company policies for drug and alcohol related protocol and providing the workplace with resources and guidance through this change. 

Stay up to date and you won’t have any trouble. We can help!

We know this is a lot to take in. It’s never too early to get acquainted with and adapt to the changes. 

Benefits Of Working With A DOT-SAP Provider

With over 30 years of experience in substance abuse treatment, Sheila Day (MA, LMSW, CADC, SAP) is positioned to be a valuable resource to leaders in the transportation industry. 

Sheila is offering in-depth seminars and consulting on the Clearinghouse database and DOT SAP procedures such as:

  • Querying the Clearinghouse
  • Registering for the database
  • What needs to be reported?
  • Company alcohol and drug practice recommendations
  • Policy update suggestions
  • Sample forms
  • Resource information and guidance
  • How to deal with the “Wild West” (cannabis and opioids in the workplace)
  • Referral to Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
  • Updated DOT SAP rules
  • DOT SAP requirements
  • Consent forms

Seminars will cost $125 per person and be held Thursdays at The Truism Center in Grand Rapids. 10am-noon, 2-4pm or 6-8pm sessions will be available to accommodate schedules.

10am-noon sessions will be held on October 10th and November 14th.

2-4pm sessions will be held on October 24th and November 21st.

6-8pm sessions will be held on November 7th, December 5th and December 12th.

On site consultation is also available for $400 (travel fees apply outside of Grand Rapids).

Contact us now so that you can be prepared for January 2020!

(616) 499-7711