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163K drivers risk losing their CDL when license downgrades start in November

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Truck drivers with a “prohibited” status in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse have just a few months to act before state licensing agencies begin removing their commercial driving privileges in November.

According to the latest FMCSA report, 163,318 CDL and CLP holders are listed in “prohibited” status in the agency’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, an online database that tracks violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program.

If these drivers do not begin the Return-To-Duty process soon, they could face serious license problems later this year.

Starting on November 18, 2024, the FMCSA will require State Driver’s Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) to revoke commercial driving privileges from individuals who have a “prohibited” status in the agency’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. This would result in a downgrade of the license until the driver completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process, the agency says.

The November 18, 2024, deadline was established by a second Final Rule (Clearinghouse-II) issued by the FMCSA in October 2021 that tightens requirements on SDLAs with regard to the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.

This rule builds on and strengthens current federal rules that prohibit drivers from operating with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status.

“As established in the first Clearinghouse Final Rule, drivers with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads. The second Clearinghouse final rule (Clearinghouse-II) further supports this by ensuring that drivers with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status do not continue to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP),” the FMCSA says.

The FMCSA’s first Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule went into effect January 6, 2020, requiring motor carriers to query the 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 (including positive substance use tests and test refusals), and the FMCSA, CMV employers, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and law enforcement officials all have complete access to information in the Clearinghouse.

Learn more about the RTD process here.

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