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FMCSA aims to close loopholes in drug / alcohol clearinghouses

Truck drivers in the Federal Automobile Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, who test positive for drugs or alcohol, will begin downgrading their licenses after the final rules from the authorities come into effect.

This rule will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, October 7. As a result, the FMCSA is amending the rules for establishing requirements for the State Driver’s License Authority (SDLA) to access and use clearinghouse information.

A new rule, effective November 8, 2021 (state compliance date is November 18, 2024), prohibits the state from issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring CDLs or commercial learner permits to drivers. Can be done. Driving a commercial vehicle is prohibited due to a breach of one or more drugs or alcohol.

In addition, the state must remove CLP or CDL privileges from the licenses of drivers subject to CMV bans. As a result, the license is downgraded until the driver completes the reinstatement (RTD) requirements.

By removing the privilege of commercial driving from the license, the rule also makes it easy for all enforcement officers to identify drivers who have been banned by performing a license check during a traffic stop or other roadside intervention / inspection. Make it possible.

According to FMCSA, this rule will prevent drivers who violate drugs or alcohol from driving commercial vehicles until the reinstatement process is complete.

Currently, most state agencies do not receive “state-approved drug and alcohol program violation information for CDL or CLP holders.” Therefore, state agencies are “not aware of when CMV operators are subject to a ban. 49 CFR 382.501 (a) states that CMV operators remain valid despite the ban. Holds a CDL or CLP. “

[Related: Drivers who fail a drug test could go months before getting noticed in FMCSA database]

The agency added that the rule “closes the knowledge gap” and gave state agencies the ability to “determine whether state-approved CMV drivers are subject to the FMCSA’s CMV ban.”

Manual trucking on a clearinghouse

This rule helps truck drivers with drug and alcohol problems get off the road faster than the current system, but most people in the industry agree that this is a good thing, but in the industry Already there are some clues about the number of drivers have been canceled due to the clearinghouse.

As of September 1, the clearinghouse RTD process has 87,438 drivers and 69,937 banned. Of the banned drivers, 52,691 (75%) did not start RTD.

At the Truckload Carriers Association’s Truckload 2021 Annual Conference, a question from an audience on a panel of truck company executives asked about the subsequent impact of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol clearinghouses. Existence of the year. As the interrogator pointed out, a relatively small number of these drivers have completed the documented reinstatement procedure. “I think Amazon loves us to keep letting go of these drivers.”

Comments suggested that drivers lost due to truck loading operations may be joining the lighter weight parcel delivery unit. Commenters wondered about the need for some reliable roadside testing, especially for impairment, as it is associated with increased marijuana use across the country. “We will be in a serious situation of losing 100,000 drivers every two years.”

Kevin Knight, chairman of Knight Transportation, is “difficult to tackle overall” given that his fleet is engaged in more hair tests than required by (especially) regular urinalysis. “Question”. He also said: “I think there’s a difference between driving an Amazon van and driving £ 80,000. Trucks on irregular routes,” he said. But overall, he and fellow panelist Mark Seymour, CEO of the Canada-based Chriska Transportation Group, agreed on one important factor.

Growing Acceptance of marijuana throughout the United States and Canada However, the problem is complicated. “It’s becoming more like alcohol,” Knight said. Drugs are legal and in personal time “drivers may suck joints-I wonder if I say so? -And they’re done on the truck.

[Related: Trucking Law: Can truck drivers use CDB? All you need to know about cannabis, hemp, testing and the clearinghouse]

Knight believes that the “small recreational users” of the testing regimes in place today may eventually have some room for wiggles on legitimate substances, “to allow us to test. I was hoping that something would be developed. ” [impairment from marijuana use] On the roadside. ”

He urged his career to “do a better job to help these displaced people. We must help them get another job. They are a government issue. Can’t be. ”

Soon, Seymour emphasized the more difficult lines. “Some things go wrong,” he said. “Driving a heavy truck on the weekend is not confused with” hitting left-handed “. … they don’t go together.Yes, probably 100,000 people have been lost [to the Clearinghouse].. A campaign to regain those people while continuing their habitual tastes is not what the industry wants.

[Related: Rise in marijuana use among truckers expected to continue]

The final rule, which prohibits states from issuing, updating, upgrading, or transferring CDLs to drivers in clearinghouses, requires state agencies to query the database before performing these actions. I have. If the query indicates that the driver is prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle, the agency must refuse the transaction and as a result will not be issued. Drivers can reapply for a transaction after obtaining a negative RTD test result reported to the clearinghouse in compliance with Reinstatement (RTD) requirements.

For downgrade clauses, FMSCA will send a notification to the state when a drug or alcohol breach is reported to the clearinghouse. The rule requires the state to complete and record a CDL downgrade in the CDL Information System Driver Record within 60 days of notification.

“The CDL downgrade requirement is as simple as a driver who is unable to legally operate the CMV due to engaged in prohibited use of drugs or alcohol or refusing to test must not retain a valid CDL or CLP. Is based on the premise that safety is important, “said the rule state.

FMCSA also sends notifications to state agencies when drivers comply with RTD requirements and FMCSA regulations no longer prohibit driving.

The rule states that if a driver is erroneously identified as banned for any reason, the FMCSA will notify the state that the individual is not banned, and the state will “quickly restore” the driver’s CDL privileges. It also includes a stipulation that driving must be eliminated. record.

Other clearinghouse changes in the rules

The final rule also amends how employers’ reports of “real knowledge” violations are maintained at the clearinghouse. Employers who currently have real knowledge of the prohibited use of drugs or alcohol by drivers, based on citations or other documents accusing drunk driving in commercial vehicles, clear the “real knowledge” breach. You need to report to the ringhouse.

The new rule prohibits CLP or CDL holders responsible for DUI at CMV from operating CMV until the reinstatement process is complete, regardless of whether the driver was ultimately convicted of the breach. It is clear that you are. The rule also requires that this type of actual knowledge breach stay in the clearinghouse for five years, or for the later of the RTDs, regardless of the conviction of drunk driving. , Modify the clearinghouse rules.

However, drivers are allowed to provide evidence of innocence in clearinghouse records for confirmation by potential future employees.

According to the FMCSA, countries must achieve “substantial compliance” with the new rules as soon as possible, but by November 18, 2024.

– Todd Dills contributed to this report.

[Related: Drug, alcohol violations grow as users added to federal database]

FMCSA aims to close loopholes in drug / alcohol clearinghouses

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