As announced last week, the FMCSA has increased the civil fine amounts for compliance violations. And while many of the new civil fine amounts represent the standard increase we see every few years, there was one standout: the fines for DOT Clearinghouse violations.
Now that the DOT Clearinghouse has been in effect for over a year, the agency has formalized the issuance of fines for these violations. “FMCSA revises appendix B to include civil penalties for an employer, employee, medical review officer, or service agent who violates the regulations implementing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse at 49 CFR part 382, subpart G,” the ruling stated.
So while last year, a single DOT Clearinghouse violation would have cost you $2,500, this year that same violation will cost $5,833 – more than double the amount.
Avoiding DOT Clearinghouse Violations
This fine increase points to the seriousness of complying with the new DOT Clearinghouse regulation – a set of rules that has caused a great deal of confusion over the past year. From updating company policies to navigating the required consent and recordkeeping processes, the regulation has created a lot of new steps for employers. Last year was treated more educationally, with a lower set of fines as carriers learned the regulation and put the new steps in place. As we move past the one-year anniversary of the regulation going into place, however, the expectation is that DOT-regulated carriers have implemented the steps needed to run a compliant program. This includes:
A process for running pre-employment and annual queries before they are due
Amending the company policy to speak to the query requirement
Having all drivers sign a limited consent form that enables the employer to run limited queries throughout each driver’s employment
Reporting all drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse in a timely manner
Having a recordkeeping process in place that keeps complete and accurate records of all queries and consent forms
Clearinghouse Enforcement Has Begun. Are you Ready?
If you have questions about the DOT Clearinghouse, you’re not alone. While it may seem simple on its surface, there are a lot of steps that employers must implement to execute a compliant program successfully. If you have questions, there are a number of webinars that could help. Or, look here for more information on who to contact.
By: Scott Mogensen