Clearinghouse Role for Substance Abuse Professionals

June 3, 2020
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

The Clearinghouse is an online database that provides real-time information on drug and alcohol program violations for commercial driver's license and learner's permit holders. It identifies drivers who have committed violations while working for one employer and failed to inform another. The database also identifies drivers prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles and ensures they receive necessary evaluation and treatment from a DOT qualified Substance Abuse Professional. All violations after January 6, 2020, will be available on the Clearinghouse database.    

FMCSA and employers are required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they employ and for prospective employees as well.  Once a violation is noted, the employee must complete a SAP evaluation with a DOT qualified SAP.  The SAP will provide information regarding drug and alcohol testing, treatment, follow up testing, and aftercare to ensure the employee may resume their work duties, with the public’s safety at the forefront.  The SAP must provide the Clearinghouse with specific information including the date of completion of the initial SAP evaluation, the date the SAP determined the driver demonstrated successful compliance with the education and treatment requirements, and the date the SAP determines the driver is eligible for return-to-duty (RTD) testing.

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The SAP follows specific DOT guidelines and is held to an extremely high standard in being a gatekeeper for DOT return to duty process.  The SAP represents the decision point that an employer may have in choosing whether an employee gets behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle again.  The SAP’s function is to protect the public interest in safety by providing proper evaluation, education, treatment, recommendations, follow-up tests, and aftercare.  The primary safety objective of the DOT rules is to prevent through deterrence and detection, alcohol, and controlled substance users from performing transportation industry safety-sensitive functions.  Once the initial assessment and evaluation are completed, the SAP then serves as a referral source for the employee.

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