Your commercial driver’s license is critical to your livelihood. If you followed the difficult path to earn your license, including training, testing and background checks, you would likely do everything you can to protect it. What you may not realize is that this includes your activities both on and off the clock. Additionally, with the recent establishment of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, any missteps are sure to follow you throughout your career.
Enacted in 2020, the Clearinghouse records and tracks drug and alcohol violations of CDL holders, making it difficult for them to shake past mistakes and continue working as truck drivers. You will want to understand how this Clearinghouse works so you can avoid a violation and the long, arduous process of reinstatement.
How does the Clearinghouse work?
Before the creation of the Clearinghouse, an employer who wanted to hire a driver would have to contact the driver’s previous employers for information about any drug or alcohol violations. This made it difficult for employers in one state to know whether a potential driver had suspensions or other issues elsewhere in the country. With the Clearinghouse, your employer submits the details of any violations into the database, and potential employers need only input your license number to obtain information about violations. The database accepts the following as violations:
- Your employer witnesses you consuming alcohol or using drugs
- You admit to your employer that you have used drugs or alcohol
- You refuse to submit to a drug or alcohol test
- You have a positive drug test
- You test greater than .04 blood alcohol concentration
- Police arrest you for drunk driving, either in your commercial vehicle or your personal vehicle
A potential employer must look back three years through your history, and once the Clearinghouse has been in place for three years, it will provide a fast and easy way to accomplish that. So far this year, employers have flagged thousands of CDL violations, most of which involve marijuana and cocaine.
Avoiding the list
Once your name is part of the Clearinghouse, you must begin the process of rehabilitation before you can return to work as a CDL operator. This includes substance abuse assessment and counseling, eligibility evaluation, and negative drug testing, all of which becomes part of your record in the Clearinghouse.
Ideally, you can avoid these troubles by steering clear of alcohol and drugs. Nevertheless, you may find yourself facing drunk driving charges that could jeopardize your future. If this happens, you will want to act fast by mounting an aggressive defense strategy.