FMCSA Clearinghouse Brings New Requirements to FMCSA Employers

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is fully operational and mandatory use is now in effect. The Clearinghouse is an online database that contains information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations. 

FMCSA Clearinghouse Brings New Requirements to FMCSA Employers

The purpose of the Clearinghouse is to improve road safety by providing FMCSA and employers resources to identify drivers who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements and are prohibited from operating a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV). 

On Feb. 21, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the Clearinghouse has detected and identified nearly 8,000 substance abuse violations since its implementation several weeks ago. 

FMCSA Clearinghouse – Employer Responsibilities

Medical review officers (MROs), Substance abuse professionals (SAPs), FMCSA employers and CDL/CLP drivers have responsibilities within the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Employers can handle the requirements themselves, or designate a consortia/third-party administrator (c/TPA), like TEAM Professional Services, to manage them on their behalf. 

Report Drug and Alcohol Violations & Return-to-Duty Information

FMCSA Employers are required to report the below information to the FMCSA Clearinghouse:

  1. An alcohol confirmation test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater (The MRO will be responsible for reporting verified positive, adulterated or substituted controlled substance drug tests)
  2. A CDL driver’s refusal to submit a Department of Transportation (DOT) test for drug or alcohol use
  3. Actual knowledge as defined in §382.107
  4. Negative return-to-duty tests
  5. The date a driver successfully completes all follow-up tests as ordered by a substance abuse professional (SAP) 

(SAPs will be responsible for reporting when the initial driver assessment is completed and when the driver is determined to be eligible for return-to-duty testing)

The information above must be reported to the Clearinghouse by the close of the third business day after the employer is informed of the violation. 

Conduct Queries

In addition to reporting violations, employers must also query the FMCSA Clearinghouse to ensure prospective and current employees aren’t prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CMV. Queries must be conducted as part of a pre-employment driver investigation, and at least annually on current employees. 

There are two types of query options in the Clearinghouse – full queries and limited queries. Full queries provide detailed information about drug or alcohol violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record, while limited queries only determine if there are any violations. 

Pre-Employment Query Requirements

As part of the pre-employment investigation on a prospective driver, FMCSA employers must conduct a full query within the Clearinghouse. The query must be completed prior to hiring the employee for a position requiring him or her to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a CMV. 

Before the query can be completed, the prospective driver must log in to their Clearinghouse account and provide consent. If the prospective driver has not registered with the Clearinghouse, a letter will be sent about the consent request. This letter can take 2-3 weeks to arrive. To avoid delays in the hiring process, employers should encourage queried drivers to register for the Clearinghouse, if needed, and log in to respond to the consent request (driver registration instructions here). 

For now, 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. January 6, 2023, the Clearinghouse will have three years’ worth of data and manual inquiries will no longer be required. 

Current Driver Query Requirements

At least annually, FMCSA Employers must conduct a limited query on all currently-employed drivers. If the limited query shows that information exists in a driver’s Clearinghouse record, the employer must conduct a full query to obtain detailed information on the violation. 

Limited queries don’t require drivers to give consent electronically within their Clearinghouse account, but employers are required to obtain consent outside the Clearinghouse and maintain those records. Employers may obtain a multi-year consent form from the driver to avoid having to obtain a new consent each year. To streamline this process, employers should include the limited consent form in their new-hire paperwork. 

 

TEAM Professional Services can manage all FMCSA employer requirements on our clients’ behalf. For more information on TEAM’s FMCSA Clearinghouse service offering, contact us today.