FMCSA Clearinghouse Drug & Alcohol Violations – A Look at the Data for 2020 & 2021

Reporting of 49 CFR Part 382 CDL drivers’ drug and alcohol violations to the FMCSA Clearinghouse became mandatory in January 2020.  Violations are reported by employers, their service agents (TPAs—like WFQA), and MROs.  So, after a year plus of the Clearinghouse operation, what do we know about CDL driver drug and alcohol violations across the U.S.?

First, let’s look at the scope of the Clearinghouse as a database or repository of this information.  Drivers, employers, C/TPAs (third party administrators), MROs, and SAPs (substance abuse professionals) are registered users of the Clearinghouse.  As of April 1, 2021 here are the numbers:

Drivers 1,896,688
Employers   227, 283
C/TPAs 11,146
MROs 1,714
SAPs 3, 132
TOTAL 2,139,963

 

Now, what about violations that have been reported to the Clearinghouse?  Violations are categorized as follows:  actual knowledge of a drug violation; drug test refusal; verified positive drug test; actual knowledge of an alcohol violation; alcohol test refusal; and positive alcohol test (±0.040 BrAC).  Here are the numbers from Jan 2020 to April 1, 2021:

Actual knowledge of drug violation 1,642
Drug Test Refusal 9,967
Positive Drug Test 57, 491
Total Drug Violations 69,100
Actual knowledge of alcohol violation 233
Alcohol Test Refusal 369
Positive Alcohol Test (±0.040) 950
Total Alcohol Violations 1,552
TOTAL VIOLATIONS 70, 652

 

Looking more closely at the reported positive drugs tests, the Clearinghouse data shows that 60% of the 57, 491 positive tests were for marijuana (THC); 15% for cocaine; 10% for methamphetamine; 10% for amphetamine; and 9% were verified positive for opioids (e.g. oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.).  Remember that these are verified positive tests, meaning that the driver had no valid prescription or medical use of the drug detected in his/her urine.

And so, with over 70 K reported drug or alcohol violations, that means that thousands of drivers have been taken out of service and placed in prohibited status.  They cannot drive a CMV until they have successfully completed the SAP and Return to Duty processes outlined in the DOT regulation.  Tracking the Return to Duty status of drivers who have violated the FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations is an essential function of the Clearinghouse and helps prevent drivers moving from employer to employer without satisfying the return to duty requirements.  Let’s look briefly at those numbers for 2020 and 1st Quarter 2021.  Of the drivers with at least one violation reported (almost 65,000), only 10,609, or 16.3% have completed the return to duty process and can again drive a CMV while being subject to follow-up testing as ordered by the SAP.

All Drivers with at least one violation 64.846
Drivers in PROHIBITED STATUS 54,237
RTD process not started 41,029
SAP request processed 497
SAP Designated 1,211
SAP request declined 205
Initial SAP Assessment complete 2,676
Eligible for RTD testing 8,619
Drivers returned to NOT-PROHIBITED STATUS 10,609
RTD test NEGATIVE 10,609
Follow-up Tests complete 0

 

The FMCSA Clearinghouse provides a much-needed database to get substance-abusing drivers off the road and keep them from driving until they have successfully gone through assessment and rehabilitation.  It only works as a risk mitigation and safety enhancement tool if employers report violations and conduct the required queries of applicants and incumbent drivers to detect drivers who are in a prohibited status.  The Clearinghouse is a lot of work and effort for everyone—but it is showing that it’s worth it!

By Dr. Donna Smith

Source of data:  https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Resource/Index/monthly-report-Mar2021


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