The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is off to a rocky start as a flood of new users crashed the website site and made it all but impossible for employers to complete the newly required background checks.
On January 6, 2020, the FMCSA’s mandatory Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule went into effect, meaning that motor carriers are now required to query an online database before hiring a driver and once per year for existing drivers. The rule is meant to give employers and law enforcement real-time access to a driver’s drug and alcohol violation records.
However, a large influx of users accessing the portal website leading up to the January 6 compliance date have resulted in several intermittent site crashes, making it difficult or impossible for carriers to comply with FMCSA rules.
On Tuesday, the FMCSA acknowledged the website issues and granted motor carriers a temporary reprieve from the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements.
A notice on the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse website reads:
Notice: If you are an employer currently experiencing technical difficulties accessing the Clearinghouse and are unable to conduct required pre-employment queries, you may hire a driver using solely the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).
It isn’t clear how long the website issues could continue.
The FMCSA attempted to encourage early registration with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse website, opening up voluntary registration on October 1, 2019.
To learn more about the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, please click here.