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February 12, 2020

Changes to FMCSA Regulations: Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a new system to better track drug and alcohol tests in January 2020. Going forward, trucking companies can send queries to the FMCSA Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to get all drug and alcohol test records for each driver. This new regulation replaces the need to contact a driver’s previous employer for drug testing information.

The goals of the Clearinghouse according to the FMCSA are to:

  • Make it easier for employers to conduct their pre-employment investigation
  • Make it harder for drivers to hide previous drug and alcohol violations
  • Provide roadside inspectors with drug and alcohol data to properly evaluate drivers
  • Allow the FMCSA better access to determine drug and alcohol rules are being followed by trucking companies

The Clearinghouse will eventually replace the need for truck company owners to contact a driver’s previous employers for any drug and alcohol testing results.

Important: No other company can register under the Clearinghouse on your behalf. However, once you’ve registered, Motor Carrier HQ or another company as your consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) can help run queries for you.
A man looking frustrated and doing paperwork.
If you are a driver and you haven’t registered under the Clearinghouse, we recommend taking the time to do so. If you have any questions about how to register, give Motor Carrier HQ a call. We’d be happy to help you out.

Want to learn more? Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the Clearinghouse.

How Does the Clearinghouse Affect My Trucking Company?

While this regulation doesn’t affect your company directly, the Clearinghouse is intended to provide better resources for trucking companies to track drug test results and drug and alcohol violations.

For the next three years employers are required to ask previous employers about drivers records and request a query in the Clearinghouse. After January 6, 2023 employers won’t have to make requests from a potential driver’s previous employers. Instead, they can get the necessary information by submitting a query to the Clearinghouse for a small fee.

Who Needs To Register Under the Clearinghouse?

The people who need to register an account with the Clearinghouse are:

  • Drivers
  • Companies
  • Consortiums and third-party administrators

All three parties need to register so queries can go through successfully. If you aren’t registered, you either can’t run queries or your data can’t be requested if you’re a driver.

How Do I Register?

You can register on FMCSA’s official site at: https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/

The FMCSA has created a variety of resources that walk you through all the steps to register.

If you’re a driver, all you’ll need on hand is your CDL. When you’re registering, you can add any proper third-party administrators, so they can run queries on your behalf.

What Is a Query and How Do I Run One?

A query is an official request to the FMCSA to get previous drug and alcohol records about drivers. Here’s how to run a query:

For yourself: You can get access to your data in the Clearinghouse online for free on FMCSA’s site as many times as you’d like.

For someone else: If you’re a trucking company trying to get access to drug and alcohol test results for a potential new driver, you can purchase a query plan and request a query for $1.25.

While a query plan cannot be purchased by a third party, a C/TPA can run the query request for you if you have registered them as a C/TPA for your company.

Does the Clearinghouse Affect Any Drug and Alcohol Regulations?

This does not affect any other drug and alcohol regulations, and we’ve covered drug and alcohol regulations more extensively in the past. Check them out:

Trying to get your trucking company compliant with drug and alcohol regulations? We can help with that, too. You can join our drug and alcohol consortium to be compliant with random drug testing, which is especially useful for independent owner operators or small fleets.

I Have More Questions. Who Should I Ask?

If you have any other questions about the Clearinghouse, contact the coaches at Motor Carrier HQ. We’re always ready to help and keep your trucking company compliant with the FMCSA.

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