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The FMCSA Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is now operating

Lady driving a delivery truckAs of January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is operational. It’s a key resource to help you hire safe drivers and promote good driving habits. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you and your drivers are compliant with the new regulations that surround the Clearinghouse.

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a secure, online database that gives the FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies, state law enforcement personnel, and employers like you real-time access to important information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse serves as a central repository of drivers’ positive test results, refusals to test, and other violations of drug and alcohol testing regulations.

Pre-employment checks

During the hiring process, you’ll need to check the Clearinghouse to ensure candidates are registered and determine whether they have any prior drug or alcohol violations that prohibit them from performing safety-sensitive functions.

Through January 23, 2023, you’ll be required to check the Clearinghouse and request relevant employee history from all candidates’ previous employers. After that date, you’ll only have to check the Clearinghouse for candidates subject to DOT testing. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll still need to perform employer drug and alcohol queries for candidates who previously weren’t subject to DOT testing. Additionally, you’ll still need to perform Section 391.23 non-drug-and-alcohol pre-employment inquiries—including motor vehicle records and safety performance history—for all candidates.

Annual inquiries

Along with pre-employment inquiries, you’ll need to perform an annual Clearinghouse inquiry for your current drivers. This means each of your drivers will need to be registered with the Clearinghouse.

These annual checks may be full or limited inquiries. Full inquiries require the driver’s specific consent to release their information through the Clearinghouse. Limited inquiries only require a general driver consent. These inquiries indicate whether information exists in the Clearinghouse about the driver, but don’t provide specifics.

If a limited inquiry indicates information exists in the Clearinghouse about a driver, you’ll need to request the driver’s full consent and conduct a full inquiry within 24 hours. Without this consent, the driver won’t be allowed to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or perform any other safety-sensitive functions.

Reporting requirements

As an employer, you’re required to report the following to the Clearinghouse:

  • Alcohol confirmation tests of 0.04 or greater
  • Negative return-to-duty tests
  • Driver refusal to submit to DOT drug or alcohol tests
  • Reports that drivers successfully completed all follow-up tests ordered by a substance abuse professional (SAP)
  • Actual knowledge violations. “Actual knowledge” is defined in §382.107. It means confirmed knowledge by an employer that a driver has used alcohol or controlled substances, based on one or more of the following:
    • Information provided by the driver’s previous employer(s)
    • A traffic citation for driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances
    • The employee’s admission of alcohol or controlled substance use, except as provided in §382.121
    • The employer’s direct observation of the employee using alcohol or controlled substances
    • It doesn’t include observation of employee behavior or physical characteristics sufficient to warrant reasonable suspicion testing under §382.307

If you receive information regarding an employee’s or candidate’s drug and alcohol violation, you’ll need to report it within three business days after receiving the information. You’ll only be able to submit DOT-approved drug and alcohol tests to the Clearinghouse.

A medical review officer (MRO) will need to report verified drug test results or refusal-to-test determinations—based on the employee’s inability to provide a sufficient specimen for testing, or the contamination or substitution of the specimen—within two business days of making a determination or verifying the drug test.

Prepare yourself and your drivers

Throughout the Clearinghouse rollout process, it’s important that you and your drivers familiarize yourselves with related regulations by visiting the FMCSA website. You should consult your legal counsel regarding appropriate ways to implement these requirements in your workplace. And remember that we have a range of driver safety resources available at

Hortica’s Loss Control & Safety Services team is here to help you put other safety policies in place. Talk with a Hortica specialist to learn more.

 Related links:

For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.

Take a look at our Loss Control & Safety program, which offers many different risk management practices ranging from customer training programs and video loan programs, to Tailgate Training and posters.

This document is made available by Sentry Insurance a Mutual Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates (collectively “SIAMCO”) with the understanding that SIAMCO is not engaged in the practice of law, nor is it rendering legal advice. The information contained in this document is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Legal obligations may vary by state and locality. No one should act on the information contained in this document without legal advice from competent and licensed local professionals. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT IS DISTRIBUTED BYSIAMCO “AS-IS”, WITHOUT ANYWARRANTIES. SIAMCO WILL HAVE NO LIABILITYTO ANY PERSON OR ENTITYWITH RESPECT TO ANYLOSSES OR DAMAGES CAUSED, OR ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN CAUSED, DIRECTLYOR INDIRECTLYBYTHIS DOCUMENT, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH CLAIM IS BASED ON CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE AND FOR PROPERTYDAMAGE AND DEATH) OR OTHER GROUNDS.
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