CDL Drivers with Drug and Alcohol Program Violations Will Lose Commercial Driving Privileges

3 min readDec 14, 2023


Beginning November 18, 2024, having a “prohibited” status in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse due to a drug and alcohol program violation will result in losing or being denied a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP).

As part of new Federal regulations, FMCSA is partnering with State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) so that drivers with a “prohibited” Clearinghouse status will lose or be denied their State-issued commercial driving privileges. This adds a layer of safety, making it more difficult for drivers to conceal their drug and alcohol program violations from current or prospective employers and evade the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driving prohibition. It also supports FMCSA’s goal of ensuring that only qualified drivers are eligible to receive and retain a commercial license, thereby making roadways safer for motor carriers and the traveling public.

Safer People, Safer Roads

Drivers who operate a CMV on public roads are filling a vital role in moving commerce. They also play a critical role in roadway safety. To help keep our Nation’s roads safe for everyone, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) established rules which CMV operators must follow regarding the use of alcohol and controlled substances (drugs). Drivers who violate these drug and alcohol program regulations — either through a positive test result, actual knowledge of use, or by refusing to test — are prohibited from operating CMVs until they complete the return-to-duty process. These drug and alcohol program violations, and certain steps in the return-to-duty process, are recorded in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

November 18, 2024 — Or Sooner

The new regulations require SDLAs to begin downgrading CDLs on November 18, 2024. However, some CDL downgrades may begin sooner.

States with legislative authority currently have the option to voluntarily query the Clearinghouse and downgrade CDLs for prohibited drivers and may do so before the November 18, 2024 compliance date.

Reinstating CDLs

The DOT has established a process for being able to return to commercial driving duties, after incurring a drug and alcohol program violation. This process requires these prohibited drivers to work with a professional to receive and complete the required evaluation, treatment, and testing before they can resume operating CMVs on public roads.

FMCSA has created a resource that outlines the steps drivers must take to complete their return-to-duty process: download the Return-to-Duty Quick Reference Guide. For more information, visit the Clearinghouse Learning Center.

Learn More

FMCSA has published a set of frequently asked questions to help CDL drivers understand the new requirements and what actions they can take to retain or reinstate their commercial driving privileges, if needed. These FAQs — and more — are available on the Clearinghouse website. Visit to learn more about how a driver’s status in the Clearinghouse impacts CDL downgrades.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that identifies operators of CMVs by centralizing records of their alcohol and controlled substance use that violates FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Testing regulations.

The Clearinghouse improves safety on our Nation’s roads by giving employers, SDLAs, State law enforcement personnel, and FMCSA real-time information about CDL and CLP holders’ drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse was mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).




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