Webinar Q&A: "Brace Yourself: The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Brings New Challenges to Recruiting Drivers"

💡The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse became fully implemented on January 6, 2023. Per the FMCSA, employers of CDL drivers will no longer need to include drug and alcohol requests in the scope of the safety performance history process of hiring a driver—the employer’s query of the Clearinghouse will satisfy that requirement. Other previous employment verification processes remain unchanged—check out VOE+ to make some of these processes easier on your team!

The information on this page is historical, educational material on this change as part of DriverReach industry content offerings. For more information on the FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, please visit its FAQ page

Did you have a chance to attend webinar, “Brace Yourself: The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Brings New Challenges to Recruiting Drivers”? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time frame, so the presenters from Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, Dave Osiecki and Sean Garney, have answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post.

If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, don’t worry  – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Question: Do you have to have a DOT number in order to register for the clearinghouse? 

Answer: No, 49 CFR 382.711(b)(1)(ii) states that if an employer/registrant does not have a DOT number, “it may be requested to provide other information to verify identity.” 

Question: What about non-cdl drivers operating a CMV (10k to under 26k). Are they required to register as well?

Answer: The drug and alcohol testing rules and the clearinghouse rules do not apply to non-CDL drivers.  As a result, the clearinghouse will not contain information on non-CDL CMV drivers. 

Question: Is the requirement for the O/O to register only if he/she is operating under their own operating authority? What if they are operating under the carrier’s authority? Do they still need to self-register? 

Answer: If the driver operates under the carrier’s authority, they are considered a driver for that carrier. If they also have their own authority, they must register as a motor carrier with the clearinghouse. 

Question: Will "diluted specimens" be reported to the Clearinghouse? 

Answer: Please consult 49 CFR Section 40.197 for procedures to follow for diluted specimens. The diluted specimens that are verified positive tests will be reported to the clearinghouse by the MRO (see 49 CFR Section 382.705).  

Question: Is there an estimated time a driver has in order to give consent? For example, if the driver doesn’t login to consent for 7 days, does the carrier just need to wait? 

Answer: There is no timeframe within which a driver must provide consent. If the driver fails to provide consent, he or she may not be permitted to conduct safety-sensitive functions until the consent is granted and the record is reviewed. 

Question: Does this override the AR Drug & Alcohol database so that after 2023 we will no longer need to provide this data to AR? 

Answer: The clearinghouse final rule did not preempt state rules, provided they are compatible with federal rules. Please contact Arkansas to determine how they will proceed. Information currently in the Arkansas Clearinghouse will not be available in the CDL Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse.  

Question: Will we do annual requests on all current drivers or just the ones hired after 1/6/2020? 

Answer: After January 6, 2020, annual requests/queries must be made on all currently employed CDL drivers at least once per year regardless of the hire date. 

Question: Do I need to run limited queries on all my current drivers by a specific date? 

Answer: The rules stipulate that a motor carrier must query the clearinghouse “at least once per year” for covered employees (49 CFR Section 382.703(b)(1)). If a CDL driver is employed on January 6, 2020, the motor carrier has until January 5, 2021 to run the first query.  

Question: Will the drivers that are employed with the company now have to register to the clearinghouse? And if not, then how would the positive/refusals be reported to the clearinghouse if they are not registered.

Answer: Current drivers will not need to be registered unless they need to consent to a full query. A driver does not need to be registered with the clearinghouse in order to report information on that driver to the clearinghouse. Motor carriers (and others like MROs, etc) will be able to upload data based on the driver’s name, CDL number and state. FMCSA will verify the identity of the driver by comparing the submitted information with what’s available in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS)

Question: Does the consent and full query need to be completed prior to hiring the person or prior to driving? 

Answer: The rules say: “…employers must not employ a driver subject to controlled substances and alcohol testing under this part to perform a safety-sensitive function without first conducting a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse. . .” (49 CFR Section 382.701). A motor carrier may employ a driver to perform non-safety sensitive work while waiting for the results of the clearinghouse query. The driver may not drive or perform safety sensitive work during this time.  

Question: Does the motor carrier need to get a new consent form signed by the employee driver each year for the annual limited query? or will the initial pre-employment consent on the clearinghouse website for the full query suffice for both? 

Answer: The employer may obtain consent for a limited query that is effective for multiple years and multiple record requests. It is up to the employer’s discretion. The employer must obtain driver consent for the full query, through the clearinghouse, each time they request the record. Consent to a full query is separate and distinct from a limited query. Consenting to a full query does not constitute consent to a limited query. . 

Question: Will the Clearinghouse work in conjunction with 3rd party background check companies? Would this need to be done in addition to a standard background check? 

Answer: A third-party background check company can be designated by a motor carrier to act as an agent for the company.  This designation must be made during the registration process by the motor carrier. Motor carriers should check with their 3rd party background check company to see what, if any, services they intend on providing to motor carrier customers to comply with the clearinghouse. 

Question: What about hair testing? 

Answer: Hair testing is not yet a DOT approved testing method and results from hair tests done by motor carriers under company policy will therefore not be included, and cannot be uploaded into the clearinghouse.  

Question: Will B1 Visa Driver's From Mexico who drive for US Carriers, have their information in the Clearinghouse system? PSP information, for example, is not accessible. If the driver has a CDL from US, Mexico or Canada, they will be included in the clearinghouse. 

Answer: If the driver has a CDL from US, Mexico or Canada, and they operate in the U.S., their violations will need to be reported the clearinghouse. 

Stay up to date on CDL trucking trends! Be sure to check out the DriverReach blog or follow us on LinkedIn for other relevant articles and head over to our webinars page for an up-to-date list of upcoming events and on-demand recordings.

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