FMCSA Clearinghouse FAQ

Since its implementation in January 2020, nearly 150,000 driver drug and alcohol violations have been reported to the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Positive drug tests account for 83% of these violations.

As we approach the three-year implementation date of the database designed to enhance the safety of our Nation’s roadways, employer requirements are about to change, and many employers still have questions.

TEAM is here to help. Below, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions we get from employers about the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

FMCSA Clearinghouse Logo

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database that provides real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

This includes positive drug or alcohol test results, test refusals, and return-to-duty or follow-up testing information.

As an employer, you are required to utilize the FMCSA Clearinghouse in a few key ways.

Did You Know?
You can designate a third-party administrator (C/TPA), like TEAM Professional Services, to manage FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements for you.

Pre-Employment Requirements

Conduct a full query of the Clearinghouse as part of the pre-employment driver investigation process. A full query must be complete before hiring a driver to perform safety-sensitive functions.

Don't Forget Consent!
Employers are required to obtain electronic consent from a driver before conducting a full query on them. Drivers will be required to create an account in the Clearinghouse (if they don’t already have one), log in to their account, and provide electronic consent to the employer before query results will return.

Annual Requirements

Conduct limited queries at least annually for each driver you employ.

Don't Forget Consent!
Employers are required to obtain a general consent form from a driver before conducting a limited query on them. Check out this sample consent form.

Did You Know?
TEAM Background can save you time on annual queries through bulk upload, rather than placing each query order individually. Contact our TEAM to learn more.

Reporting Requirements

Report positive alcohol tests, refusals, actual knowledge, negative return-to-duty (RTD) test dates, and follow-up testing plan completion dates.

Full Queries

A full query is required when hiring a driver.

Full queries allow employers to see detailed information about any FMCSA drug and alcohol violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Limited Queries

A limited query is required at least annually on all drivers.

Limited queries allow employers to determine if an individual driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations. However, they do not release any specific violation information.

If a limited query shows the driver has unresolved violations, the employer will then need to run a full query to access the details of the violation(s).

Enrolling

There are no costs for drivers to sign-up with the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Queries

Employers are charged a flat rate of $1.25 per query (pre-employment or annual). Queries never expire.

Query Plans

Employers are required to purchase a query plan, which allows them (or their third-party administrator) to conduct queries. Third-party administrators cannot purchase queries on behalf of employers.

Find more information on Query Plans here.

Ready to get signed up?

Click here for instructions on how to register as an employer with the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

On January 6, 2023, there will be three years of violation data stored in the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

At that time, employers will no longer have to conduct manual inquiries with a CDL driver’s previous employers to obtain previous FMCSA drug and alcohol testing history information; the prospective employer’s query of the Clearinghouse will satisfy that requirement.

But Be Careful:

Employers will still be required to manually contact previous employers from the preceding three years to obtain general employment verification information and safety performance history.

How to Avoid Hiring Delays:

Take the following steps to avoid delays in the hiring process due to FMCSA Clearinghouse queries:

1. Stock up on credits.
Ensure you have query credits on your account or purchase more. Learn more about purchasing queries or download the factsheet.

2. Get prospective drivers registered.
As soon as possible, instruct prospective drivers to register with the Clearinghouse and ensure they are able to log in to their account. Provide them with the factsheet to help get them started.

3. Send consent reminders.
Once you submit a full query for a prospective driver, the driver will be notified automatically via the preferred contact method set in their account (email or U.S. Mail).

TEAM recommends reaching out to prospective drivers yourself to let them know the process has started and that they will be required to log in to their Clearinghouse account to provide consent. Provide them with the factsheet for more details.

How TEAM Can Help:

TEAM can assist employers with all FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements, including reporting violations and submitting queries on their behalf.

If you’re already using TEAM as your drug and alcohol third-party administrator (TPA), designate us as your C/TPA within the Clearinghouse and we’ll reach out with next steps.

For more information on designating your C/TPA, download the Factsheet.

Tip: When designating TEAM as your TPA, select the “TEAM Professional Services Official” TPA option.

If you’re not a TEAM client yet, request a quote to learn more about how TEAM can support your business!

Additional resources can be found on the FMCSA Clearinghouse here.