The CVSA has added Clearinghouse checks to their roadside inspection list for CDL and CLP drivers. During this check, inspectors will be looking to verify that the driver doesn’t have any violations in the DOT Clearinghouse that would prohibit them from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
If a violation is found, the driver will be pulled from safety-sensitive functions immediately – and any cargo being hauled will be stranded until a relief driver can be located.
Violations in the Clearinghouse
Since the DOT Clearinghouse went into effect on January 6, 2020, all employers of CDL drivers have been required to report DOT drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse. Until the driver completes the return-to-duty process, these violations will result in a “prohibited” status that the enforcement officer will be able to see during roadside inspections.
The idea behind the Clearinghouse, is that it helps keep drivers with active drug and alcohol violations off the road as it will make it easier for employers, law enforcement officials and state licensing agencies to see if a violation exists. If it does, and the return-to-duty process hasn’t been completed, the driver won’t be eligible for employment as a CDL driver, won’t be able to obtain or renew their CDL and will be pulled from service immediately during a roadside inspection.
The Safety Gap
The problem, is that there is a safety gap in the current Clearinghouse regulation that could allow prohibited drivers from operating for up to a year without their employer’s knowledge. The issue, is that employers are only required to run a query on their drivers annually. Take the current year as an example: in the first two months of the Clearinghouse opening, there were 12,000 drug and alcohol violations recorded. Yet because employers have until January 6, 2021 to run their first annual driver queries, those violations could go undetected until then.
Undetected, that is, until they are pulled over for inspection.
Maintaining a Safe Fleet
Running Clearinghouse queries on an ongoing basis can help prevent this issue, provided that you are running them compliantly. Because these queries are considered a consumer report, they are protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Privacy Act. This means that you must get a driver’s permission prior to running a query – with different permission levels required depending on whether a limited or full query is being requested.
We’ll cover this issue in much greater detail in our upcoming webinar. To register, and learn more about Clearinghouse Query best practices, please click here.