DOT Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

New FMCSA Clearinghouse Rules went into effect on January 6, 2020 - Register Today

       The DOT Clearinghouse is MANDATORY for all Employers and Owner Operators effective January 6, 2020.

Employers of drivers who hold commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) have been subject to U.S. Department of Transportation
drug and alcohol testing requirements for over twenty-five years. These regulations, enforced by the (FMCSA), require that
any driver who fails (or refuses to take) a mandated drug or alcohol test must be taken off the road until he/she completes
a return-to-work process that includes consulting with a substance abuse professional (SAP), following through with required
education and/or treatment programs and passing a return-to-duty test.

Under the regulations, employers are required to take certain precautions when hiring a CDL driver to ensure that the
candidate is fit to drive, including investigation of the driver’s testing compliance history with each of his/her
DOT-regulated employers during the preceding three years. One problem with this requirement is that drivers seeking
new employment can easily omit from their job application any prior employment that involved a testing violation.
In addition, some prior employers may fail to keep good records of prior violations or may be reluctant to share driver
violations in the reference process – and thereby fail to give subsequent employers a clear picture of a driver’s compliance history.

Reporting Requirements. Effective January 6, 2020, covered employers must track and promptly report certain driver
information directly to the Clearinghouse, including positive confirmation tests, refusal to test, actual knowledge of driver
drug or alcohol use before duty, while on duty or soon after an accident in violation of existing regulations,
negative return-to-duty tests and confirmation that the driver completed all follow-up tests directed by the SAP.
These reports are accepted by the Clearinghouse even if the driver has not yet registered; the reported data is linked to the
driver’s license information and not Clearinghouse registration. Information relating to violations that occurred prior to
January 6, 2020 need not be reported; however, a test specimen that is taken before the effective date would need to be
reported if a Medical Review Officer verifies the positive test result after the regulations take effect. Medical review officers
(MROs), SAPs and third-party administrators have similar reporting requirements to ensure that a driver’s
compliance profile is complete.

Query Requirements. Upon hiring a new CDL driver, a covered employer must conduct a “full query” of the
Clearinghouse with respect to the driver’s compliance history. A full query allows access to detailed information regarding 
a driver’s prior positive test results and return-to-work process compliance. A hiring employer must confirm that all
reported incidents were appropriately resolved before the driver may be permitted to perform safety-sensitive functions. In addition, employers are required to conduct “limited queries” for each covered driver they employ on an annual basis, with the first
occurring within twelve months of January 6, 2020. The Clearinghouse will respond to limited queries with a general response as
to whether it possesses any information regarding a driver’s prior testing violations – the employer will then need to follow through
with a full query for those drivers with records of concern.

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.   For a limited query, a general consent is required. This will be obtained outside the Clearinghouse.  

Notably, during the hiring process, employers must continue to investigate a CDL driver’s testing compliance history by contacting
each of his or her DOT-regulated employers during the preceding three years – however, this requirement will cease once
the Clearinghouse is three years old (on January 6, 2023).

Registration Requirements. Drivers are not required to immediately register for the Clearinghouse but must do so in order
to provide consent for “full queries” from employers and in order for the driver to review the information contained in the
Clearinghouse relating to them. For this reason, drivers are well-advised to register now. Employers must register in order to report information and conduct the required queries.  Employers and drivers can register via the 

             When registering, choose Austin Mobile Drug Testing as your (C/TPA) Consortia/TPA.

Employers who do not comply with the FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements are subject to the civil and/or criminal penalties set forth at 49 U.S.C. 521(b)(2)(C) (i.e., civil penalties not to exceed $2,500 for each offense).