Once you have successfully submitted your bulk upload file, the number of queries in your file will be deducted from your query balance. Within a few minutes, the queries contained in your file will begin appearing in your Query History page. They will be labeled “Query Submitted: Via Bulk Upload.”
You can track these queries by their query status. The possible query statuses include the following:
|Awaiting Processing||The query process will be initiated during the next nightly batch.|
|Processing||The query is being processed.|
|Specific consent required||You must manually send a consent request for a full query to the driver. This occurs when a bulk upload file lists query type 1 (limited query) and the limited query determines there is information in the driver's record.|
|Pending driver consent||A consent request for the full query has automatically been sent to the driver. This occurs when the bulk upload file lists query type 2 (full query), 3 (pre-employment query), or 4 (limited query with automatic consent request) and the limited query determines there is information in the driver's record.|
|Completed||The query has been completed and the results are available. This may be because a limited query returned a result of "Driver Not Prohibited," or because the full query was completed (with the driver's consent).|
|Driver Not Found||The CDL information in the file could not be verified. The employers query plan is credited.|
Under 49 CFR § 382.103(d)(1), the requirements of 49 CFR Part 382 do not apply to employers and their drivers “required to comply with the alcohol and/or controlled substances testing requirements of part 655 (Federal Transit Administration (FTA) alcohol and controlled substances testing regulations).” Does this mean that FTA-regulated employers and drivers are exempt from the Clearinghouse requirements?
It depends. Drivers who perform only FTA-regulated safety-sensitive functions are exempt from Part 382, including the Clearinghouse requirements, as are their employers. These drivers and employers are subject only to the alcohol and/or controlled substances testing requirements of Part 655. On the other hand, FTA-regulated entities that employ drivers who also perform FMCSA-regulated safety-sensitive functions must comply with the relevant alcohol and/or controlled substances testing requirements of Part 382. The following examples illustrate how employers subject to Part 655 also could be subject to Part 382.
Example #1: A driver operates a bus under the authority of the FTA during the week, but sometimes operates a charter bus, for the same employer, on the weekend. The charter operation is regulated by FMCSA, not FTA. If the driver is involved in a crash during the charter operation and is subject to post-accident testing, that testing is conducted under the authority of FMCSA (§382.303) and the results must be reported to the Clearinghouse. The same would be true for any testing conducted under the authority of FMCSA (e.g., random testing for drivers in an FMCSA random pool (§382.305)). This result is the same for any employer regulated by more than one Department of Transportation (DOT) mode; the modal authority under which the testing is conducted determines which modal regulations apply.
Example #2: A driver regularly operates a bus under the authority of the FTA, but sometimes operates a truck, for which a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required, for the same employer. In situations like this, the dual FTA/FMCSA regulated employer must conduct a pre-employment query for any driver expected to perform any FMCSA-regulated safety-sensitive functions in the course of their employment, and conduct an annual query for all drivers who have performed any FMCSA-regulated function within the last year.
Yes, a sample limited consent form is available. FMCSA does not require that motor carrier employers subject to the Agency’s drug and alcohol use and testing regulations in 49 CFR Part 382 use this sample format to obtain an employee’s consent to conduct a limited query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Employers may, however, use or adapt the content as they see fit.
Yes. The Clearinghouse is subject to certain provisions of the Privacy Act. For example, the Agency will verify the driver’s consent for the release of information prior to allowing an employer to access the driver’s Clearinghouse record. Drivers have the right to request inaccurate information in their Clearinghouse record be corrected or removed. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will notify employers if previously-released Clearinghouse information has been subsequently corrected or removed.
No. Only employers who employ drivers subject to the licensing requirements in 49 CFR Part 383 and the drug and alcohol testing requirements in 49 CFR Part 382 are required to query or report information in the Clearinghouse. However, employers of drivers not holding a CDL or CLP must still comply with the driver investigation requirements of § 391.23(e), which includes drug and alcohol violation history.
Yes. The Clearinghouse will identify drivers who move frequently and obtain CDLs in different States and link those CDLs, in order to maintain complete and accurate information on such drivers.
A limited query allows an employer to determine if an individual driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations, but does not release any specific violation information contained in the driver’s Clearinghouse record. Limited queries require only a general driver consent, which is obtained outside the Clearinghouse; this general consent is not required on an annual basis, it may be effective for more than one year. However, the limited consent request must specify the timeframe the driver is providing consent for.
A full query allows the employer to see detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record. An employer must obtain the driver’s electronic consent in the Clearinghouse prior to the release of detailed violation information during the full query.
Query plans may be purchased only on the FMCSA Clearinghouse website by registered employers. A consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) may not purchase a plan on behalf of an employer. Download the How to Purchase a Query Plan instructional job aid
Employers may conduct a limited query, which requires consent outside of the Clearinghouse. If the limited query returns that records were found in the Clearinghouse for the queried driver, the employer must receive electronic consent for a full query from the driver in the Clearinghouse before detailed information may be released to the querying employer. The employer may also conduct a full query at any time, provided the employer has obtained the required electronic consent for the release of detailed violation information for the queried driver.
Employers will be notified if there is a change to a driver’s Clearinghouse record within 30 days of a pre-employment query being conducted. The employer will be required to obtain the driver’s electronic consent in the Clearinghouse before they can access the updated information.
The Clearinghouse is a centralized database that employers use to report drug and alcohol program violations and to conduct queries, which check that current or prospective employees are not prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation—that is, a violation for which the driver has not completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process. Queries must be conducted as part of a pre-employment driver investigation, and at least annually for current employees.
In addition, employers may designate a C/TPA who can report violations and/or conduct queries on their behalf. An owner-operator—an employer that employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation—must designate the C/TPA in the Clearinghouse.
To complete the actions outlined above, employers and C/TPAs are required to register in the Clearinghouse.
At this time, there are no integration specifications available. Due to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) security requirements and the sensitive nature of driver violation information, employers and consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) must access the Clearinghouse directly. In addition, the Clearinghouse final rule requires FMCSA to record specific consent for the release of the driver’s detailed violation information within the Clearinghouse.
The Clearinghouse will notify the driver using the method indicated during the driver’s Clearinghouse registration—either mail or email—any time information about the driver is added, revised, or removed. If the driver has not yet registered for the Clearinghouse, these notifications will be sent by mail using the address associated with the driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Yes. An employer is required to conduct pre-employment and annual queries for all drivers subject to drug and alcohol testing under 49 CFR Part 382.
While the employee may perform more than 50 percent of their functions for a mode other than FMCSA, possibly placing the employee in that agency’s random pool, the Clearinghouse query requirements apply so long as the employee performs any FMCSA-regulated functions.
Yes. Employers may designate a C/TPA or C/TPAs to conduct queries and/or report violations on their behalf. The C/TPA must be registered in the Clearinghouse before an employer can select the C/TPA, and C/TPAs must be designated by the employer before reporting drug and alcohol program violations or querying the Clearinghouse on their behalf.An owner-operator (an employer that employs himself or herself as a commercial driver’s license (CDL) driver, typically a single-driver operation) must designate their C/TPA(s) as part of their Clearinghouse registration process.
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse statute allows the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to collect Clearinghouse fees when querying from all employers, including Federal, State, or local government entities that employ commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators.
Yes. Anyone who employs a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder must query the Clearinghouse (§ 382.701). This requirement includes owner-operators—that is, any employer that employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation. Owner-operators must comply with all Clearinghouse requirements imposed on both employers and employees. An owner-operator’s designated consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) may conduct queries on their behalf. However, the C/TPA is responsible for reporting drug and alcohol program violations to the Clearinghouse for the owner-operator.
Section 382.703(a) states “No employer may query the Clearinghouse to determine whether a record exists for any particular driver without first obtaining that driver’s written or electronic consent.” The type of consent required depends on the type of query.
For a limited query, a general consent is required. This is obtained outside the Clearinghouse. Employers may obtain a multi-year general consent from the driver for limited queries. A sample limited consent form from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is available.
For a full query, the driver must provide specific consent to the employer prior to each full query. This consent must be provided electronically within the Clearinghouse.
If the Clearinghouse experiences a technical issue that prevents users from conducting queries, FMCSA will post a notification on the home page informing employers that they may hire a driver using only the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). If no such notification is on the home page, the requirement to conduct pre-employment queries, in addition to the manual inquiries established in § 391.23(e), prior to engaging a driver in safety-sensitive functions is in effect.
If a driver is hired without a pre-employment query due to the scenario outlined above, once the technical issues have been resolved, the employer must access the Clearinghouse to conduct the pre-employment query as required by § 382.701(1). The employer may have the driver perform a safety-sensitive function, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), while waiting for the result of this pre-employment query. If the query result is that the driver is prohibited, the driver must be immediately removed from safety-sensitive functions.
An owner-operator (an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation) is subject to the requirements pertaining to employers as well as those pertaining to drivers. Under the Clearinghouse final rule, an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver must designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to comply with the employer’s Clearinghouse reporting requirements (§ 382.705(b)(6)).
As of January 6, 2020, employers are required to conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and traditional manual inquiries with previous employers to meet the three-year timeframe required by § 391.23. This will be required until January 6, 2023, at which point a query of the Clearinghouse will satisfy this requirement.
The Clearinghouse retains a record of every query an employer conducts. This includes any queries conducted by a designated consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) on their behalf. Employers may choose to maintain separate copies in addition to these Clearinghouse records.
Unlike individual queries, which are processed as soon as they are entered (in the case of limited queries) or as soon as a driver provides his or her electronic consent (in the case of full queries), bulk queries are processed in batches. These batches are processed each night, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. ET., in order to avoid overloading the system during peak user hours.
Each night, the system will rotate through the submitted files, processing a batch of queries from each file in turn. Therefore, all bulk files are processed at approximately the same rate, regardless of the number of queries they contain.
Employees must be queried at least once within a 365-day period based on their hire date, or another 12-month period determined by the employer, as long as the requirements of § 382.701(b) are met.
A history of an employer’s full and limited queries, including those conducted by a designated C/TPA, is maintained in the Clearinghouse. This includes records of the driver’s response to consent requests for any full queries conducted or initiated.
Employers must retain records of drivers’ limited consent for 3 years. This does not have to be retained in the driver qualification file, but the employer must be able to provide evidence upon request.
An employer must conduct a pre-employment query for a prospective employee in the Clearinghouse prior to hiring the employee for a position requiring him or her to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). The employer must also query the Clearinghouse annually for all currently employed CDL drivers.
Yes, the Clearinghouse supports a feature allowing employers to submit a bulk query by uploading a file containing multiple drivers to be queried; these queries will be conducted in batches. The Clearinghouse allows for the bulk uploading of driver queries by preparing and uploading a file into the Clearinghouse for processing. This file must be either a tab-delimited file, XLS file, or XLSX file, and must use the format outlined in the Bulk Queries File Setup instructions. Download the instructions and example files.
Drivers are not required to register for the Clearinghouse. However, a driver will need to be registered to provide electronic consent in the Clearinghouse if a prospective or current employer needs to conduct a full query of the driver’s Clearinghouse record—this includes all pre-employment queries.
A driver must also be registered to electronically view the information in his or her own Clearinghouse record.
Registered drivers will have their Clearinghouse accounts and contact preferences set up, allowing them to quickly respond to query requests from employers. Registration is available at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/register.
- View their own driver record electronically.
- Provide electronic consent to release detailed drug and alcohol program violation information to a current or prospective employer.
- Identify a substance abuse professional (SAP) so the SAP may enter specific information regarding the driver’s return-to-duty (RTD) activities.
To complete the actions outlined above, drivers must be registered in the Clearinghouse. Registered drivers will have their Clearinghouse accounts and contact preferences set up, allowing them to quickly respond to query requests from employers. Registration is available at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Register .
Download and complete the Bulk Upload Template File. (C/TPAs: If you work with multiple employers, you will need to upload a separate file for each employer.) Once you have completed the bulk upload file, log in to the Clearinghouse. Under My Dashboard, go to Queries and select “submit a bulk upload.”
No. The Clearinghouse final rule did not change the underlying requirements in 49 CFR Part 382, which apply to employers of individuals subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) drug and alcohol use testing requirements. As stated in § 382.103, those testing requirements apply to CDL holders who operate a CMV in commerce “in any State.” As defined in § 383.5, State means “a State of the United States and the District of Columbia.”
The Clearinghouse offers employers a centralized location to query driver information and report drug and alcohol program violations incurred by their current and prospective employees holding CDLs and CLPs. The employer must use the Clearinghouse to:
- Conduct a full query of the Clearinghouse as part of each pre-employment driver investigation process.
- Conduct limited queries at least annually for every driver they employ.
- Request electronic consent from the driver for a full query, including pre-employment queries.
- Report drug and alcohol program violations.
- Record the negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the date of successful completion of a follow-up testing plan for any driver they employ with unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.
Employers and C/TPAs can assign Assistants to conduct queries and report drug and alcohol program violation information on their behalf. MROs and SAPs can assign Assistants to enter information in the Clearinghouse on their behalf.