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December 2019: Clearinghouse Answers

I’d like to clarify a few questions that SAPs have asked, regarding the Clearinghouse.

Am I required to register on the Clearinghouse?

The only SAPs who must register on the Clearinghouse are those who will be providing SAP services to FMCSA drivers.  If you work exclusively with FAA employees, or FTA employees, there would be no reason to register on the Clearinghouse.

However, that means that if an FMCSA truck driver calls you about a SAP evaluation, you could not provide SAP service to that driver, unless you are registered on the Clearinghouse.  If you aren’t registered, you would have to tell that driver to look for a different SAP.

You need to be able to access a driver’s record on the Clearinghouse, and in order to do that, you must be registered.

When does the Clearinghouse start?

Day 1 of the Clearinghouse will be January 6, 2020 -- less than a month away.  (At last!)

Will previous violations show up on the Clearinghouse?

No.  MROs and employer will begin recording violations that occur on January 6, and thereafter.  This means that for the next three years, a new employer will have to query the Clearinghouse AND contact previous employers to check an applicant’s violation record.  After January 6, 2023, a new employer will only have to query the Clearinghouse.

Will I still have to prepare SAP reports?

Yes. You will still send your Initial SAP Report to an employer as soon as you have determined what your treatment recommendation is.  You will send a Report of Non-compliance as soon as you determine that a driver is not complying with your recommendation, or taking too long to get started, or not returning your phone calls, all of which are reasons to report non-compliance.  You will send a Report of Compliance when you determine that a driver has successfully complied with your recommendation, along with your follow-up testing plan for the driver.

Will non-DOT test results show up on the Clearinghouse?

No. The Clearinghouse is only for DOT tests, refusals, and other violations.

Can I just have our office manager enter this information for me?

A SAP is permitted to have an “assistant” register on the Clearinghouse.  That assistant could then enter the dates of the assessment, and the date of compliance.  However, you remain responsible for any errors that may occur, inaccurate entry, and for recording information that doesn’t fall in FMCSA’s required timeframe.  The old adage has relevance here:  “If you want to be sure that it was done on time, and done correctly, do it yourself.” 

Will an employer be able to find me on the Clearinghouse?

No.  The Clearinghouse is not a searchable directory.  SAPlist is still the very best place for you to be found by an employer or driver.

Will I have more SAP cases as a result of the Clearinghouse?

Actually, I believe that SAPs will see an increase in the number of SAP cases.  The Clearinghouse will close the loopholes.  A driver will no longer be able to continue driving after having a positive test or refusal.  That driver’s violation will show up on the Clearinghouse, and no employer will be able to hire that driver until he/she has successfully completed a SAP return-to-duty process.  (Even if it takes 5 or 10 years!) 

Previously, a few SAPs have worked with drivers who had two violations at the same time, because the driver hadn’t done anything about the first one.  Until now, a driver could get away with falsifying previous employment, or about having a positive pre-employment test.  The Clearinghouse makes that no longer possible.

I haven’t been able to signup for any of FMCSA’s web sessions about the Clearinghouse.  What can I do about that?

I’ve been told that FMCSA is planning more sessions, but I suggest you try to prepare for the Clearinghouse as much as you can on your own.  It’s actually very simple.  Don’t work yourself into a tizzy over it.  FMCSA has a short piece on their website related to a SAP's responsibilities on the Clearinghouse.  Read it several times, slowly.  It’s all you need to know.

FMCSA SAP Responsibilities Brochure

Let me point out something that appears on the first page of FMCSA’s brochure: 

Notice that it references drivers with CDLs and CLPs (Commercial Learner’s Permit).  A student who is enrolled in a driver training program will have a CLP, which is a learner’s permit.  He/she won’t have a CDL (yet), but they do have a CLP.  That student is subject to FMCSA’s drug and alcohol regulations, including testing and the SAP return-to-duty process.  The school is the employer, and the program director is the DER.  In order to return to the training program, the student will have to pass a return-to-duty test, and the school will then start the follow-up testing plan.  A new employer will have to obtain your SAP reports from the school (not from you), and will then pick up the remaining follow-up tests, according to your plan.
Happy Holidays to everyone.

SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed
Until next time,

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Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
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