Starting in 2024, states must use the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to make sure prohibited drivers don't have a valid CDL. - Photo: Quest Diagnostics

Starting in 2024, states must use the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to make sure prohibited drivers don't have a valid CDL.

Photo: Quest Diagnostics

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule closing a loophole in the federal drug and alcohol testing program.

Scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 7, 2021, the rule is designed to make sure commercial drivers who are prohibited from driving because of drug and alcohol program violations don’t get or keep their commercial driver’s license. Compliance with the rule is required by Nov. 18, 2024.

The rule establishes requirements for state driver’s licensing agencies to use information through the federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

It says states must not issue, renew, upgrade, or transfer a commercial driver’s license or commercial learner’s permit for any individual prohibited under FMCSA’s regulations from performing safety-sensitive functions, including driving a commercial motor vehicle, due to one or more drug and alcohol program violations.

It also says states must remove the CLP or CDL privilege from the driver’s license of such individuals, resulting in a downgrade of the license until the driver complies with return-to-duty requirements.

Currently, most state driver licensing agencies do not receive drug and alcohol program violation information about commercial driver’s license holders licensed in their state. Therefore, they are unaware when a CMV operator is subject to the driving prohibition set forth in 49 CFR  382.501(a), and the driver continues to hold a valid license despite the driving prohibition.

The rule closes that knowledge gap by ensuring that all state licensing agencies are able to determine whether CMV drivers licensed in their state are subject to FMCSA’s driving prohibition.

The final rule does not establish specific downgrade or reinstatement procedures. It notes that all states already have established procedures to downgrade the CDL or CLP of a driver whose medical certification has expired or otherwise been invalidated. The agency anticipates states will adapt their existing processes.

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