The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced a final rule extending the date for state driver’s licensing agencies to comply with Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements an additional three years (FMCSA Issues Final Rule for States to Comply With Clearinghouse Requirements).
The rule, which requires states to request information from the Clearinghouse before issuing, renewing, upgrading, or transferring a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), was set to begin January 6, 2020. As a result of FCMSA’s new action, states will now have until January 6, 2023, to comply.
The announcement made clear that states will still maintain the option to request information from the Clearinghouse on a voluntary basis beginning January 6, 2020, by registering in the Clearinghouse as an authorized user and logging in to view a driver’s record.
“The compliance date extension allows FMCSA the time needed to complete its work on a forthcoming rulemaking to address the states’ use of driver-specific information from the Clearinghouse, and time to develop the information technology platform through which states will electronically request and receive Clearinghouse information,” FMCSA said. “The compliance date of January 6, 2020, remains in place for all other requirements set forth in the Clearinghouse final rule.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) commented that FMCSA should extend the compliance date for all Clearinghouse requirements to provide the entire industry an opportunity to register and allow additional time to guarantee an efficient rollout, but FMCSA rejected the suggestion. “Clearinghouse registration for authorized users has been underway since October 1, 2019, and FMCSA intends to make the Clearinghouse operational beginning January 6, 2020, as required by the 2016 final rule,” FMCSA said.
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an important program for ensuring that America’s CDL drivers are not operating their vehicles while impaired, but FMCSA has concluded that the delay will not impact highway safety. Nevertheless, the situation bears monitoring because the trucking industry has shown that it will always prioritize profits over the safety of American motorists.
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