How employers should use the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

After officially becoming a requirement on January 6, 2020, the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has already had a major impact on hiring processes throughout the trucking industry.

However, according to CCJ, only about 145,000 carriers have registered for the Clearinghouse, which is nearly a third of the total 550,000 registered carriers in the United States. With such a slight amount of folks registered, there’s reason to believe that many haven’t even started the process of running a single query, which carriers must do before Jan. 5, 2021.

The FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is “a secure online database that will give employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations,” according to the FMCSA.

The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to enhance safety throughout the United States, as it provides users with pertinent information that they can use to make better and more informed safety decisions when it comes to hiring

So, with the deadline for registering and running a query only a few weeks away, here’s what you need to know about using the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

For employers, running queries on the Clearinghouse database is going to help them identify quality candidates for their available positions, as it’ll help them weed out drivers with drug and alcohol violations. 

In addition to running queries on prospective employees, employers are also required to perform queries on current employees on an annual basis, with driver consent.

It’s also important to remember that, at least until Jan. 6, 2023, employers are required to conduct both electronic and manual, offline queries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations. 

Additionally, employers will also play a crucial role in reporting data for the Clearinghouse. Primarily, employers will need to report drug and alcohol violations, which includes alcohol test results with a concentration of .04 or greater and any refusal to take a test.

Employers are also tasked with reporting negative return-to-duty test results and completing a driver’s follow-up testing plan. It’s also important to note that employers MUST report all the above information by the end of the third business day after they are informed.

With the deadline for registering and performing a query quickly approaching, it behooves employers to get started with this process as soon as possible. This will give them enough time to verify their information, designate a consortium/third-party administrator, invite additional assistants, and purchase a query.

Prices for queries were set back in the summer of 2019 by the FMCSA, with a flat per query rate of $1.25. 

A limited query is described by the FMCSA as a check for the presence of information in a driver’s Clearinghouse record, while a full query discloses to employers and designated C/TPAs detailed information about any resolved or unresolved violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record. Both of these options are available for $1.25 by the FMCSA, and all require driver consent as well.

The FMCSA also offers 19 different bundles that are customized to meet business needs and do not expire. The prices range from one query at $1.25 to 7,500 queries for $9,375.

According to Freight Waves, employers can also make an annual payment of $24,500 for an unlimited amount of queries instead of paying per query.

In order to begin the registration process, you can visit the FMCSA Clearinghouse website, which will be linked here. Again, beginning the process as soon as possible is crucial, as the January deadline to make a query inches closer.

The FMCSA has also highlighted the fact that registration is free, and that they are aware that third-parties are directing folks to private, non-governmental websites tor register for a fee. 

So, what do you think about the Clearinghouse rules? Let us know in the comments or on social media!