Effective Nov. 18, 2024, commercial vehicle drivers in a “prohibited” status in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will lose their commercial driving privileges unless they complete the return-to-duty (RTD) process.

The “prohibited” clearinghouse status means that a person holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) engaged in the prohibited use of drugs or alcohol or refused a drug or alcohol test. Those CDL or CLP holders cannot legally operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse began operation on Jan. 6, 2020 in a rulemaking now dubbed “Clearinghouse I.”

The goal of the “Clearinghouse I” rule was to close loopholes and help employers, law enforcement, and state driver licensing agencies quickly identify drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to unresolved drug and alcohol violations. To create the clearinghouse database, FMCSA required motor carriers, third-party administrators, and medical review officers to report all drug and alcohol violations. Substance abuse professionals also must submit updates on return-to-duty and follow-up tests.

“Clearinghouse I” required state driver licensing agencies (SDLAs) to query the clearinghouse database prior to completing licensing transactions, such as issuance, renewal, transfer, and upgrades of CDLs or CLPs.

But one loophole remained. While FMCSA required SDLAs to look at the clearinghouse data, it did not require them to act upon it. Some states acted under their own laws, but not all states did.

Now comes “Clearinghouse II” which required state compliance by Nov. 18, 2024. At that time, any CDL or CLP holder in the “prohibited” clearinghouse status will have their license downgraded by the SDLA to a non-commercial license. Similarly, no SDLA may issue a new CDL or CLP if the driver appears in the “prohibited” clearinghouse status.

Drivers must complete the return-to-duty (RTD) to avoid the license downgrade and seek CDL/CLP reinstatement. FMCSA outlines the RTD process steps in its “Return-To-Duty Quick Reference Guide.” For more RTD information, drivers can visit the Clearinghouse Learning Center.

The PrePass blog and podcasts are published as a public service of PrePass®, the most reliable and technologically advanced weigh station bypass and integrated electronic trucking toll payment platform in North America. PrePass also includes INFORM™ Safety and INFORM™ Tolling software for improving truck safety scores and lowering toll costs.