Employers, consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs), medical review officers (MROs), and substance abuse professionals (SAPs) will identify an individual for their company to serve as a Clearinghouse Administrator. These Clearinghouse Administrators have the option to invite users to serve in an Assistant role, enabling them to use the Clearinghouse on their company’s behalf.
- MROs and SAPs can assign assistants to enter information on their behalf.
- Employers and C/TPAs can assign assistants to conduct queries and/or report violation information on their behalf.
Employers that require a USDOT Number will manage these Clearinghouse Administrator and Assistant roles via the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Portal. (Are you a motor carrier without a Portal account? If so, you can register for one now. Make sure all users at your company create their own Portal account with the proper Clearinghouse user role.) Other Clearinghouse Administrators will be able to invite and manage assistants once they are registered in the Clearinghouse.
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.
SDLAs will be able to query the Clearinghouse prior to completing licensing transactions, such as the issuance, renewal, transfer, and upgrade of a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has extended the compliance date for the requirement established by the Clearinghouse final rule that States query the Clearinghouse before completing certain CDL transactions. The SDLAs’ mandatory compliance with this requirement, currently due to begin on January 6, 2020, is delayed until January 6, 2023.
SDLAs have the option to voluntarily query the Clearinghouse beginning on January 6, 2020.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Clearinghouse is a centralized database that employers will use to report drug and alcohol program violations and to 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. This query 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.
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 will be charged a fee to conduct limited and full queries within the Clearinghouse. There will not be any fees for registration or other Clearinghouse activities.
No. Only Part 382 drug and alcohol program violations may be reported to the Clearinghouse.
The Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) specifies the DOT agency requesting the test, and employers may only report to the Clearinghouse a positive result when FMCSA is agency designated on the CCF.
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.
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)).
Beginning January 6, 2020, employers will be 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 will retain 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.
A complete history of an employer’s full and limited queries, including those conducted by a designated C/TPA, will be maintained in the Clearinghouse. This will include records of the driver’s response to consent requests for any full queries conducted or initiated.
Employers will need to 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.
Yes, the Clearinghouse will support 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 will allow for the batch uploading of driver queries by preparing a tab-delimited file and uploading that file into the Clearinghouse for processing. Download an example file
The first row of the file should contain the field names as listed below with each additional row consisting of information for the driver that will be queried. The following fields should be provided in a tab-delimited file:
LastName – This field contains the driver’s last name. This would include hyphenated last names. Suffix to a last name should not be included in the submittal. Maximum length 40 characters.
FirstName – This field contains the driver’s first name. Maximum length 40 characters.
DOB – This field contains the Date of Birth. Format is MM/DD/YYYY.
CDL – This field contains the Commercial Driver’s License Number or Commercial Learner’s Permit Number. Maximum length 25 characters.
Country – This field contains the Country Code where the CDL was issued. For CDLs issued in Canada use CN; for CDLs issued in Mexico use MX and for CDLs issued in the United States use US.
State – For CDLs issued in the United States and Canada, this field contains the two-character abbreviation for the State or Province where the CDL was issued. For Mexican States, this field should contain MX. For a list of acceptable abbreviations for Canadian Provinces and U.S. States read the instructions that come with the example file.
QueryType – This field contains the type of query that is being requested (learn more about the different types of queries). The values should be 1, 2, 3, or 4 with the values indicating the following:
- 1 – Limited Query
- 2 – Full Query
- 3 – Pre-employment Query
- 4 – Limited Query with Automatic Consent Request
“Automatic Consent Request” means that, if a limited query returns that the driver has violation information in his/her Clearinghouse record, the Clearinghouse will automatically submit a request from your employer to that driver for his/her consent to a full query. If you would prefer the Clearinghouse to automatically send a consent request in this case, select “4 – Limited Query with Automatic Consent Request.” If you would prefer the Clearinghouse not send these consent requests automatically, select “1 – Limited Query”.
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 will include all pre-employment queries beginning on January 6, 2020.
A driver must also be registered to electronically view the information in his or her own Clearinghouse record.
Drivers who register before January 6, 2020, will have their Clearinghouse accounts and contact preferences set up, allowing them to quickly respond to query requests from employers on or after January 6, 2020. Registration is available at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/register.
Drivers will be able to:
- 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. Drivers who register early will have their Clearinghouse accounts and contact preferences set up, allowing you to quickly respond to query requests from employers on or after January 6, 2020. Registration is available at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Register .
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 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.
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. 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.
The Clearinghouse will offer 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 will be obtained outside the Clearinghouse. Employers may obtain a multi-year general consent from the driver for limited queries. A sample limited consent form will be posted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the Clearinghouse website for employers’ reference.
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.
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.
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.