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Answers to Your DOT Clearinghouse FAQs
Mariah Barr
6 mins read

What questions do you have about the FMCSA Clearinghouse? Get the information you need from Foley, your trusted compliance partner.

Are you still wondering if you’re compliant with the DOT Clearinghouse? Now is the time to make sure, especially with the new regulations coming into effect on January 6, 2023.

Below, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions about the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, like...

  • What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse?
  • Is the DOT Clearinghouse mandatory?
  • How far back does the DOT Clearinghouse go?
  • What information are employers required to report to the Clearinghouse?
  • How often do employers check the Clearinghouse?
  • How long do violations stay in the Clearinghouse?

Plus, we’ll reveal a new FMCSA Clearinghouse regulation coming up in 2024.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is the FMCSA Clearinghouse?

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database of CDL drivers’ DOT drug and alcohol violations. It was officially put in place on January 6, 2020, and from that date forward, all new violations have been required to be reported to a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Is the DOT Clearinghouse mandatory?

The DOT Clearinghouse is required for only FMCSA-regulated employers who hire safety-sensitive drivers, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), and consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs).

This is why the safety performance history changes passed on January 6, 2023, were crucial for FMCSA-regulated employers.

How far back does the DOT Clearinghouse go?

The FMCSA Clearinghouse contains records of violations that occurred on or after its launch date of January 6, 2020. If a driver’s violation occurred before then and they were in the process of completing the return-to-duty (RTD) process when the Clearinghouse was implemented, the violation and any related RTD activity cannot be found in the Clearinghouse.

What information are employers required to report to the Clearinghouse?

According to federal regulations, employers must report the following information to the FMCSA Clearinghouse:

  • An alcohol test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher
  • Any CDL driver’s refusal to take a DOT drug or alcohol test
  • Actual knowledge, defined as the employer’s direct observation of the employee using or under the influence of drugs or alcohol while performing safety-sensitive job duties, the information provided by the driver’s previous employer(s), a traffic citation resulting from driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, or an employee’s admission of alcohol or controlled substances use
  • Negative RTD test results
  • The completion date of a driver's follow-up tests ordered by an SAP

How long do violations stay in the Clearinghouse?

Once a non-negative drug or alcohol test result is confirmed, it will appear in a driver’s violation record and stay in the FMCSA Clearinghouse for the next five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process (whichever is later).

How often do employers check the Clearinghouse?

Employers must query their drivers’ records both during the pre-hire process and annually throughout the duration of their employment.

This is where the updated regulations from last year come into play. As of January 6, 2023, employers can rely on the FMCSA Clearinghouse for the drug and alcohol violations portion of their new hires’ safety performance history check.

Employers still need to contact the drivers’ previous employers for information about other violations, such as accidents or moving violations that aren’t recorded in the DOT Clearinghouse.

And if you haven’t completed at least a limited Clearinghouse query on all your drivers yet for the year, Foley can help ensure you meet this annual DOT compliance requirement before it’s too late!

Need a reminder on the difference between a full and limited Clearinghouse query? Read our related Foley article: Compliance Reminder: Your Annual DOT Clearinghouse Queries are Due

Make Sure You’re Compliant with the DOT Clearinghouse in 2024

Our compliance experts are ready to help you with your yearly DOT Clearinghouse queries and provide more information on the new safety performance history regulations that came into effect last year, as well as the new regulation coming up in November 2024. 

You can find out more about this 2024 FMCSA update here.

We also offer a completely automated Clearinghouse compliance program to keep you on track throughout the year. Once enrolled, Foley will handle getting the necessary employee consent to run queries on your behalf and store all required records of these queries in your driver files, so you’re always prepared for a DOT audit.

Get a FREE software demo now to start the new year on a 100% compliant note! Fill out the form below to request your personal demo.

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