FMCSA Clearinghouse Registration is Open—Have You Updated Your DOT Drug & Alcohol Testing Policy?

As most DOT covered employers are aware, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse electronic database (Clearinghouse) for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. The Clearinghouse was established pursuant to federal regulations that attempt to prevent CMV drivers from concealing drug and alcohol violations merely by moving from job to job or to a new jurisdiction. Employers may now register with the Clearinghouse online before the Clearinghouse regulations take effect on January 6, 2020. The FMCSA website includes details about registration.

Beginning January 6, 2020, employers of CMV drivers are required to conduct a full query in the Clearinghouse database before allowing a newly hired CMV driver to begin operating a CMV. Drivers must give electronic consent in the Clearinghouse before employers may conduct a full query.

The Clearinghouse rules also require employers to obtain drug and alcohol testing information from applicants’ prior employers for the past three years (instead of the previous requirement of two years). Before January 6, 2020, employers should also update their DOT drug and alcohol testing policies and releases to conform to conform with the Clearinghouse rules.

Furthermore, employers must conduct an annual query in the Clearinghouse for each CMV driver they currently employ. A limited query satisfies this requirement. A limited query only shows whether there is information in the database concerning a driver. Drivers must consent before their employer conducts even a limited a query, so employers should update their drug and alcohol testing policies to conform to the new requirements and to obtain drivers’ signed consent to conduct the required queries. If a limited query indicates there is information about the driver in the Clearinghouse, the employer must conduct a full query within 24 hours, or the driver may not continue to operate CMVs.

Employers must also keep records of all queries and responses they make or receive in the Clearinghouse for three years, until January 6, 2023. After that, maintaining a valid Clearinghouse registration will fulfill this requirement.

Additionally, beginning January 6, 2020, DOT-regulated employers will have to report the following CMV driver drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse within three business days after learning of the information:

  • An employer’s verified and documented actual knowledge that the driver violated DOT drug/alcohol rules.
  • An alcohol confirmation test with a concentration of 0.04 or higher.
  • A negative return-to-duty test result.
  • A refusal to submit to a DOT-required alcohol test.
  • A refusal to submit to a DOT-required drug test.
  • Successful completion of follow-up testing.

DOT-regulated employers are required to update their DOT drug and alcohol testing policies to inform drivers that the above information will be reported to the Clearinghouse.

If you have questions regarding the FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements or need to have your DOT drug and alcohol testing policy updated, please contact Heather Bredeson (952-921-4624 or or any other attorney at Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A.