With the end of 2019 in sight, trucking companies should brace for new fees coming their way early next year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that trucking companies will be required to pay a fee prior to hiring new drivers. This is in addition to a once a year fee for already employed drivers. The new hiring and employment fee is part of the FMCSA’s new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule.
Staring January 2020, carriers will be required to query about new hires on an FMCSA database. This database contains information about drivers who have refused or failed drug and alcohol tests and will provide drug and alcohol testing information for the past five years. In addition to being required to make queries about new hires, companies will also need to make queries at least once a year for drivers already employed.
According to the FMCSA, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database, “will improve highway safety by helping employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement to quickly and efficiently identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations.”
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse was designed to replace the process of calling a driver’s previous employer to obtain drug and alcohol testing records. The FMCSA hopes that the database will fully replace the old method by 2023. Until that time, trucking companies will need to query the database and call previous employers.
The FMCSA also announced pricing for accessing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database. Carriers will be charged a $1.25 flat fee for each query. Trucking companies can bulk purchase query plans, but the cost still comes out to $1.25 per query.
Carriers will have the option between two types of queries. The limited search will check for the presence of information in the driver’s Clearinghouse records. The full search option will provide employers will detailed information about any resolved or unresolved violations in the driver’s record. Drivers will need to give consent to carriers for both types of queries.
The fee is small, but carriers could quickly see the costs add up. This could mean a big payday for the FMCSA as there are currently around 3.5 million truck drivers working in the U.S. The industry also has a high turn over rate, which means employers will have to routinely query the database.
Trucking carriers can visit here to learn more about the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database.