School districts are required to run an annual query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse on all existing commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders, including bus drivers.
Beginning January 6, 2020, all school districts and CDL holders are required to register in the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse—a secure database providing real-time information about CDL drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse is used by employers to report drug and alcohol program violations and to conduct queries to ensure current or prospective employees are not prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
The introduction of the Clearinghouse didn’t change any existing requirements in the U.S. Department of Transportation procedures for workplace drug and alcohol testing. Districts are required to query the database for new hires or employees transferred into positions requiring a CDL to determine if they have any violations that would prohibit them from driving.
Annual limited queries on all existing CDL holders also must be conducted to determine if an individual driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations. The timeframe for conducting the annual query is not specified.
The district must obtain a general driver consent, which is done outside the Clearinghouse. The consent may be effective for more than one year but must specify the timeframe for which the driver is providing consent. A sample limited consent form is available in the HR Library.
In most districts, the responsibility for DOT drug and alcohol testing is handled by the transportation department. However, HR may be called on to provide assistance notifying applicants, new hires, and current employees of their requirement to register with the Clearinghouse and providing consent for annual queries.
While HR is not responsible for oversight, it’s important to be familiar with the processes and requirement. Information, including a FAQ on the Clearinghouse is available on the FMCSA website.
April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.
Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.
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