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FMCSA grants Clearinghouse exemption for movie industry drivers

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Motion Picture Compliance Solutions (MPCS), a third-party administrator for truck drivers who work for major movie studios and independent production houses, has secured a five-year exemption from conducting full pre-employment queries of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for its drivers.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a database which allows carriers, state licensing agencies and law enforcement to check on a driver’s past drug and alcohol violations. The Clearinghouse had been set to go into operation at the beginning of this year but has seen delays and a three-year postponement of requirements by state DMV’s. 

The announcement made by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in late May says that MPCS can do a “limited query” of the Clearinghouse to see if it contains any information about potential drivers. However, before such a query can take place, an employer must get the driver’s consent to check the database. 

If information is found, the employer must once again get permission from the driver to check the entire Clearinghouse file. Limited query information would prevent a driver from full employment until a full query showed the driver was not prohibited from operating in a commercial setting. 

The main purpose of the MPCS is to provide representation for drivers who carry crew members and filming equipment to various locations. MPCS argues their drivers are different than most commercial drivers because they generally only drive about one to two hours each workday.

“MPCS members quickly find driver applicants by accessing pools of available drivers maintained by local unions. These driver pools are static by nature, exhibiting little driver turnover and few new drivers. There are currently approximately 12,000 drivers in this pool,” a statement from the organization said.

Of the 12 public comments received by FMCSA on the issue, only four supported the idea while eight were against the exemption. In particular, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposed MPCS’s exemption. 

In a statement, the OOIDA said, “Waiving the pre-employment full query requirements may prevent carriers from accessing necessary hiring information and allow drivers with drug/alcohol violations to return to the road before proper evaluation and treatment is completed.”

FMCSA disagreed and said the exemption would not sacrifice safety because the limited query would lead to a full query if any issues were found.

 

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