Later this month, the FMCSA is expected to publish a final rule to establish a central database with drug testing results from company drivers and owner-operators.
The database, otherwise known as The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, will keep record of CDL holders who have either failed or refused to take a drug test. The rule mandates that carriers and owner-operators must submit positive drug tests or test refusals to the FMCSA on a regular basis.
Drivers must give written consent to be added to the database before submitting a drug test — but a refusal to do so could result in losing driving privileges.
If a drug test is positive, drivers must complete a “return-to-duty” process, which includes evaluation and monitoring by a substance abuse specialist. After completing this, the positive drug test will remain in the database for three to five years. However, if a driver fails to complete the process, a failed drug test will remain in the database forever.
Truck drivers are allowed to appeal a positive drug test if a possible error has been made. The FMCSA will review that decision within 60 days.
Trucking companies are also required to annually search the database to check for driver traffic tickets or citations related to driving under the influence.
The initial proposal was published back in 2014. After the announcement, former FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro explained, “We are leveraging technology to create a one-stop verification point to help companies hire drug and alcohol-free drivers.”
The final rule is expected to be published on September 26th, 2016.
According to the FMCSA, the regulation will cost the industry $186 million annually, but it will also result in $187 million of benefits. Trucking companies will spend $28 million annually for the annual mandate and another $10 million in pre-employment screenings. An estimated $101 million will be spent on drivers who are required to undergo the return-to-duty process.