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July 5, 2023

Penalties for Non-Compliance with The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse 2023

Non-compliance with drug and alcohol Clearinghouse regulations can result in severe penalties. Learn about the compliance requirements here.

For trucking and transport companies, the health of their drivers is a critical part of the business. Employing drivers with existing drug or alcohol problems increases the risk of mishaps for drivers and other road users.

As part of the transportation industry’s effort to improve safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has established the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH).

With this new initiative, employers and other DOT-related drivers are now expected to meet the requirements set by the USDOT or be penalized for non-compliance. Here’s what you need to know about the DACH and its related penalties.

What Is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a database established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in the United States. It serves as a central repository of drug and alcohol testing violation information for safety-sensitive commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers, such as those in the trucking and logistics industry.

It’s designed to help employers, medical review officers, substance abuse professionals, and enforcement agencies monitor and track compliance and employee behavior of truck drivers with federal drug and alcohol testing regulations. It is also used to screen potential employees as part of the pre-employment or return-to-duty process.

Any trucking company that plans to hire a safety-sensitive driver with a commercial driver’s license must register with the Clearinghouse and obtain authorization from FMCSA so that they can access the related drug and alcohol violations in the system.

Why Does the Clearinghouse Exist?

The FMCSA established the DACH to improve safety on our roads by making sure CMV drivers are not under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol while on the road, thereby reducing the risk of accidents.

It achieves this by helping employers, and enforcement agencies ensure that CMV drivers are compliant with federal drug and alcohol testing regulations.

Because of the centralized information stored in the DACH, it’s easy for employers to find out if potential job applicants have drug or alcohol program violations. This ensures that only safe and compliant drivers are hired.

It also gives enforcement personnel access to a record of violations located in a single database, which makes it easier to track violations and spot concerning trends in driver behavior.

While the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is intended to help protect public safety, it does come with penalties for non-compliance. Some of the penalties are:

1. Civil penalty: Employers who fail to comply with the DACH and FMCSA requirements could face heavy fines. For example, commercial driver’s license (CDL) violations have a $6,755 fine as of 2023. A more detailed itinerary of 2023 fines is provided here.

2. Revocation of commercial driver’s license: Drivers who fail to comply with the DACH requirements may be disqualified from operating a CMV.

3. Suspension or revocation of operating authority: Trucking or logistics companies that fail to comply with the DACH requirements may have their operating authority suspended or revoked.

4. Other penalties: Employers who fail to comply with the DACH requirements may also face penalties, such as suspension of their DOT number or a cease-and-desist order.

What Kind of Drug or Alcohol Violations Get Reported?

The Clearinghouse collects and reports information on violations such as positive controlled substances tests, refusals to test, and completion of the return-to-duty process after a violation.

It also tracks violations related to the release of information from the system, such as misuse of information or failure to report violations.

How to Get Registered

To register for the DACH, employers, including owner-operators, must have an active USDOT number. Registration is done via the FMSCA website. You will also be asked for basic information, such as name, address, contact information, etc.

There are also specific requirements when you’re registering as:

Once registered, employers can request consent to run a full query on a driver to check if they are compliant.

Meanwhile, drivers need to provide additional information such as their commercial driver’s license number, Social Security number, and date of birth.

However, the registration process may require additional information and documentation depending on your organization’s specific circumstances. It’s best to be prepared to provide accurate and up-to-date information during the registration process.

Recent Clearinghouse Regulations Changes

Effective January 6, 2023, there will be changes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse pre-employment requirements.

Beginning the said date, Clearinghouse will have accumulated three years of violation data, and a pre-employment query will fulfill the obligation to examine if a potential driver has prior drug and alcohol program violations, as mandated by 49 CFR 391.23(e). This will also meet the requirements outlined in 49 CFR 40.25.

The FMCSA also updated its rules for drug and alcohol testing effective on June 1, 2023. This includes an additional method for testing, oral fluid specimen collection, which may have a small change for the Clearinghouse database.

The FMCSA also increased their fines for all transportation-related penalties, including drug and alcohol violations, effective January 6, 2023.

It is also important to emphasize the following existing DACH regulations:

1. Employers must run annual queries on their safety-sensitive drivers to ensure continued compliance regarding this regulation.

2. Medical review officers must report alcohol test results greater than 0.04 BAC to the Clearinghouse.

3. Employers must obtain consent from drivers before conducting queries in the DACH. This means that employers must receive explicit consent from drivers to access their complete drug and alcohol testing records in the Clearinghouse.

To stay informed about any potential updates or changes to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, it is recommended to monitor the FMCSA website and subscribe to their news updates.

What Does the FMCSA Clearinghouse Report Tell Us?

The FMCSA Clearinghouse can provide reports that contain important information for employers and enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with the DACH regulations. It includes the following information:

1. Positive drug and alcohol test results conducted by employers or medical review officers, including any reasonable suspicion testing done.

2. The driver’s refusal to be tested.

3. Any return-to-duty tests following drug or alcohol program violations.

4. Follow-up tests on their drivers.

5. Documentation for the query consent process between employers and drivers.

What Substances Are Drivers Testing Positive for the Most?

According to the FMCSA, many drivers receive a positive test on the following controlled substances:

  1. Marijuana (THC): This is largely due to the increasing legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in various states, leading to more widespread use. Even though marijuana may be legal in certain areas, its use remains prohibited for safety-sensitive positions, including operating CMVs.
  2. Cocaine: It’s a stimulant drug that can impair cognitive function, judgment, and reaction time.
  3. Amphetamines: This includes drugs like methamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These stimulant substances can affect alertness, focus, and decision-making abilities.

It’s important for employers to be aware of current trends in drug use and abuse so they can create policies and procedures that reduce the risk of violations and ensure compliance with the DACH regulations.

What Does this Data Mean for DOT-Regulated Businesses?

For DOT-regulated businesses like those in the trucking industry, the DACH is an important tool to ensure compliance with regulations on testing for drug and alcohol use. It’s meant to help protect their businesses, provide a safe working environment for drivers, and increase road safety.

The data also provides insight into drug use and abuse trends, allowing employers to create policies that address these issues and reduce the risk of violations and road mishaps.

What Should You Look for in a DOT Compliance Partner?

Having a DOT compliance partner will help make it easier for your business to be updated with the latest regulations and comply with DACH requirements. When looking for a partner, you should consider the following:

A Program that Actually Keeps You Compliant

It’s important to have a partner that can provide solutions customized to your business needs. DOT Compliance Group offers programs that ensure you stay compliant with the DACH regulations and protect your organization from costly fines or penalties.

Digital Compliance Program Management

The DACH has a set of digital tools and software solutions to streamline and automate the compliance processes associated with the Clearinghouse requirements.

A good compliance partner can help you manage these digital programs to make it easier for you to maintain accurate records, comply with regulations, and oversee testing programs.

Nationwide Network of Testing Locations

The FMCSA also requires employers to have access to a network of drug and alcohol testing sites that meet the requirements of the regulations. A good compliance partner can make it easy for you to find and access these sites, as well as provide training for your designated representatives.

This will help ensure that your drivers are tested in a safe and compliant manner and that their records are properly maintained.

DOT Clearinghouse Compliance Program

Many DOT-regulated businesses need assistance with creating and maintaining compliant programs. Look for a partner that can provide you with a customized program that meets your specific needs, such as providing software solutions for managing queries, scheduling drug and alcohol tests, tracking records, and more.

Electronic Chain of Custody Form (eCCF) Capabilities

In addition to providing electronic software solutions for managing your compliance program, a good partner can provide you with an eCCF that meets the requirements of the FMCSA. This form helps make it easier to track and store records in a secure, compliant manner.

A Partner That Keeps Up with Changing Regulations

The DOT is continuously updating its requirements, which you may not be able to track consistently. A good partner like DOT Compliance Group can monitor these changes for your business.

This way, you’ll always be aware of the latest developments in DOT regulations, such as the recent ruling on oral fluid testing, so your company can stay compliant and reduce the risk of penalties and other potential issues.

Stay Compliant with DOT Compliance Group

Compliance with the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse regulations is essential for any DOT-regulated business. By finding a partner that can keep you updated on the latest requirements and provide you with software solutions for managing your compliance program, you can ensure that your business stays compliant with the FMCSA regulations.

Contact us today at https://www.dotcompliancegroup.com to learn more about how we can help your organization stay compliant!

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