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.
Does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provide a sample of a limited consent request?
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 a Federal system of records subject to the Privacy Act. For example, the Agency will verify the driver’s consent for the release of certain information prior to allowing an employer to access the driver’s Clearinghouse record. In addition, drivers may access their own Clearinghouse record. Further, Drivers have the right to request inaccurate information in their Clearinghouse record be corrected. In accordance with the Department of Transportation’s Privacy Act procedures in 49 CFR part 10, subpart E, drivers may submit a written request to the Chief, Drug and Alcohol Programs Division, detailing the correction and the reasons the record should be so corrected. For full instructions on how to submit a request, see the Requests for Record Correction Under the Privacy Act job aid.
Are employers required to query the Clearinghouse or report drug and alcohol program violations for drivers who do not hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP)?
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.
If a driver has a drug and alcohol program violation in one State, then applies for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in another State, will the Clearinghouse be able to connect that driver’s drug and alcohol violation history to the new CDL?
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
Do employers have access to violation information regarding current employees, including violations recorded by a different employer?
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.
As of March 8, 2023, an employer will be notified via email if a driver they have queried has new information (such as an updated return-to-duty status, a removed violation, or a new violation) recorded in their Clearinghouse record within 12 months of a pre-employment or annual query. The Query History will also be updated to reflect that new information is available. This change is permitted as a “routine use” of the driver’s information under the Privacy Act and is set forth in FMCSA’s System of Records Notice for the Clearinghouse, accessible at 2019-22915.pdf (govinfo.gov).
Note: Previously, email notifications about new driver information were sent to employers within 30 days of a conducting pre-employment queries only. This has been expanded as described above.
Now that three years have passed since the Clearinghouse was implemented, how will prospective employers comply with the investigation and inquiry requirements of 49 CFR 391.23(e)?
As of January 6, 2023, when three years of violation data is stored in the Clearinghouse, prospective employers must conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse, as set forth in § 382.701(a), to comply with the inquiry requirement in §§ 382.413(b) and 391.23(e)(4), as it pertains to previous FMCSA-regulated employers. Inquiries not conducted under § 382.701(a) will not satisfy these inquiry requirements.
However, if a prospective employee was subject to drug and alcohol testing by a Department of Transportation (DOT) mode other than the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), (Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.), prospective employers must continue to request drug and alcohol violation information from those DOT-regulated employers in accordance with § 391.23(e)(4)(ii), since violation information for other DOT modes is not reported to the Clearinghouse.
Is an employer required to conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse for a driver-applicant subject to 49 CFR Part 382 before administering a road test in accordance with 49 CFR 391.31?
No. An employer is not required to conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse before administering a road test to a prospective driver subject to 49 CFR part 382. Under § 382.701(a), employers are required to query the Clearinghouse when hiring a driver to perform safety sensitive functions. The road test occurs before the driver is hired; therefore, employers may conduct a pre-employment query at the time they road test a prospective driver but are not required to do so.
How are employers and consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) required to use the Clearinghouse?
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.
Is a motor carrier that is subject to Part 382 allowed to query the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) for drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) but who are operating only non-CDL-required commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce?
Yes. Employers who employ CDL holders to operate non-CDL vehicles (i.e., a commercial motor vehicle as defined in 49 CFR 390.5) may, but are not required to, conduct a pre-employment query in accordance with § 382.701(a) or an annual query in accordance with § 382.701(b). Doing so will allow the employer to determine whether the CDL holder had drug and alcohol program violations reported to the Clearinghouse when the driver was operating a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in § 382.107, while subject to the CDL requirements in 49 CFR part 383.
Employers who query the Clearinghouse for CDL holders operating non-CDL vehicles must comply with the applicable employee consent requirements set forth in § 382.703. If a query of the Clearinghouse reveals the CDL holder is prohibited from operating either a CMV or non-CDL CMV under § 382.501(c), the employer must not permit the driver to operate either type of CMV until completing the return-to-duty requirements set forth in 49 CFR part 40, subpart O, as required by § 382.503(a).
Are there plans to support an employer interface allowing for automated uploads via a web service, or similar?
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.
How must a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-regulated employer respond to requests for information from an employer that is regulated by a different Department of Transportation (DOT) mode?
Per 49 CFR 40.25(h), all DOT-regulated employers are required to comply with requests for information under § 40.25(b). Therefore, when an FMCSA-regulated employer receives an inquiry from an employer regulated by another DOT modal agency, such as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the FMCSA-regulated employer must promptly release the most recent result of a Clearinghouse query they conducted on the driver. This information would be available in the FMCSA-regulated employer’s Query History page.
FMCSA-regulated employers should not refer employers regulated by other DOT modes to the Clearinghouse to obtain this information. Only FMCSA-regulated employers are authorized to query 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).
Is an employer required to conduct pre-employment and annual Clearinghouse queries for drivers who are in a random testing pool regulated by another DOT agency?
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.
Employers who have previously conducted a query on a driver will be notified by email when there is new information in a driver’s Clearinghouse record if:
- The query was initiated on or after the September 14, 2022 System of Records Notice; and
- The new information was recorded after March 8, 2023.
All users registered under the employer, including Assistants, will receive the notification email. If a consortium third-party administrator (C/TPA) initiated the query on behalf of the employer, the C/TPA’s Clearinghouse users will also receive the notification email. These users will also see a notice of new information in the Query History.
May an employer authorize a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to conduct queries in the Clearinghouse on their behalf?
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.
Employers can purchase a query plan that fits their business needs. Learn more about the query plans.
Employers are charged a fee to conduct limited and full queries within the Clearinghouse. There are no fees for registration or other Clearinghouse activities.
Employers can purchase a query plan that fits their business needs. Learn more about the query plans.
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)).
Are employers required to retain records of each Clearinghouse query and all information received in response to each query to meet the requirements of 49 CFR 382.701(e) and 391.53(b)(2)?
No. As of January 6, 2020, an employer’s valid registration in the Clearinghouse satisfies record retention requirements in §§ 382.701(e) and 391.53(b)(2) since the Clearinghouse now contains three years of drug and alcohol violation data.
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 of their Clearinghouse queries in a driver qualification file or driver investigation history file or other location but are not required to do so as of January 6, 2023.
However, under § 391.53(b)(2), if the employee was subject to drug and alcohol testing by a Department of Transportation (DOT) mode other than FMCSA, (Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.), employers must continue to retain copies of responses received from those DOT-regulated employers in the driver investigation history file, since violation information for other DOT modes is not reported to the Clearinghouse.
When an employer receives a notification that there is a change to information in a driver’s Clearinghouse record, the employer should complete a full follow-on query within 24 hours to determine if the new information prohibits the driver from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
In order for the employer to conduct the follow-on query, the driver must provide specific consent electronically in the Clearinghouse. In accordance with 49 CFR 382.703(c), if the driver refuses to grant specific consent, the employer must remove the driver from safety-sensitive functions until a full query is conducted and the results obtained. Once the full query is conducted, the driver may resume safety-sensitive functions only if the query returns a “Not Prohibited” status.
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.
Employers must conduct an annual query on current employees at least once within a 365-day period based on the date the employer conducted the last query, or another 12-month period determined by the employer, as long as the requirements of 49 CFR 382.701(b) are met.
The annual query requirement is tracked on a rolling 12-month (365-day) basis. For example, if an employer conducts a preemployment query on a prospective employee (or an annual query on a current employee) on December 1, 2022, and the employer is then hired, the employer is not required to conduct another query on that employee again until December 1, 2023.
If an employer receives a notification that a driver has a change to their Clearinghouse record and completes a follow-on query, the follow-on query satisfies the annual query requirement and the rolling 12 months will reset based on the date of the follow-on query. For example, an employer initiated a query on January 1, 2023, then received a notification and requested driver consent for the follow-on query; if the follow-on query is completed on February 1, 2023, the employer would not be required to complete a new annual query on the driver until February 1, 2024.
What documentation must be maintained by an employer to serve as evidence that the employer, or their designated consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA), obtained consent for each query conducted?
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.
When must current and prospective employers conduct a query of a CDL driver’s information in the Clearinghouse?
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.
Can I initiate queries for a large number of drivers without having to enter them into the system one at a time?
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.”
Are motor carrier employers operating in Puerto Rico required to query/report to the Clearinghouse if they employ commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who rely on the CDL to legally operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in Puerto Rico?
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.”
Employers can purchase a query plan that fits their business needs. Queries are a flat rate of $1.25 per query. Learn more about the query plans.
How does the Clearinghouse impact employers of commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders?
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.