The day has almost arrived: Come January 6, 2023, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will finally contain three years’ worth of data. That means that employers will no longer use the safety performance history (SPH) to request FMCSA drug and alcohol testing history from previous employers.

Will employers still need to request a SPH from previous employers?

Yes, employers will still send the SPH form to former employers. The only difference is that employers cannot ask about an individual’s drug and alcohol testing history. The motor carrier must still inquire about the driver’s DOT crash history and general employment information (dates employed, vehicles operated, and so forth).

Is the SPH form changing?

Employers should contact their vendors to see if an updated SPH form is available. If the motor carrier uses a third party to help assemble the driver qualification file and/or manage the drug and alcohol program, the carrier must ensure the service agent is aware of the new requirements. Employers or service agents who want to use existing stock of SPH forms must cross out the drug and alcohol testing history section of the form before sending it to a previous employer.

How will employers learn whether a prospective employee has an unresolved FMCSA drug or alcohol violation?

Beginning on January 6, 2023, employers will rely solely on a pre-employment query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to determine whether a potential employee has any unresolved FMCSA drug or alcohol violations. Clearinghouse queries, unlike the SPH records request, must be completed before the individual drives for you. Consent for the pre-employment query is provided through the driver’s personal Clearinghouse account.

In what situations must an employer still obtain drug and alcohol information from a previous employer after January 6, 2023?

There are two situations in which an employer must still contact a former employer for drug and alcohol information:

  • The driver used to work for a different mode. Motor carriers must continue to ask DOT drug and alcohol questions of former employers where the driver was subject to Part 40 testing under another mode (air, pipeline, transit, maritime, rail). This information is pertinent and must be investigated since a violation under another mode carries over to highway (FMCSA). The driver must provide specific written consent before the former employer may respond. This information is requested using a form other than the safety performance history document. This is the case currently and will continue to be the process after January 6, 2023.
  • The driver has an unresolved DOT drug or alcohol violation. If the motor carrier learns that a driver has a violation and did not complete the return-to-duty and/or follow-up program, the motor carrier must contact the former employer to determine where the process left off. This may involve requesting copies of records, such as the substance abuse professional (SAP) follow-up testing plan, completed follow-up tests, and the like. Of course, the driver must provide specific written consent for the release of such records. This has always been the case and continues going forward.

Header Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

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