The Clearinghouse is an online database that provides real-time information to employers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations based on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A driver who has committed a drug and alcohol program violation while working for one employer, who failed to inform another employer will be identified in this database. The Clearinghouse also identifies drivers who are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and ensures that they receive the required evaluation and treatment from a DOT qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) prior to operating a CMV on public roads. All violations that occurred 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 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.
The SAP follows specific DOT guidelines and is held to an extremely high standard in being a gatekeeper for DOT’s RTD 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.
Written by Rebecca Luellen – MA Candidate Mental Health Counseling