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DOT Clearinghouse Updates Registration Process for Student Drivers
Scott Mogensen
5 mins read

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently updated its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse registration process when it comes to student drivers.

These new guidelines clarify how student drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) should register with the Clearinghouse.

New Webinar: The Better Way to Keep Clearinghouse Records 

If you’re a student driver, or employ or are training one, continue reading to find out what you need to do to stay compliant.

Registration Requirements

Per the new guidelines:

  • Student drivers who are employed by a motor carrier must register as a driver.
  • Student drivers in training programs not affiliated with or operated by motor carriers must register as a student driver. They must also designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to fulfill their drug and alcohol testing requirements.

What is a C/TPA? A service agent that helps to keep employers and student drivers compliant with DOT drug and alcohol testing rules and regulations. Student drivers should first contact service agents to act on their behalf, then designate them in the Clearinghouse.

Employers may designate Clearinghouse-registered C/TPA(s) to conduct queries and/or report violations on their behalf. Driver training schools can also register in the Clearinghouse as a C/TPA to conduct queries and report violations on behalf of student drivers.

How to Register

 First, all student drivers in either category must create a login.gov account, which requires a valid email address.

To register with the Clearinghouse, student drivers holding a CDL or CLP and enrolled in a training program not affiliated by a motor carrier must then:

  • Enter their contact information.
  • Designate their C/TPA(s) via the search function. (If the C/TPA(s) are not listed, they must contact them to confirm that they have completed their Clearinghouse registration.)
  • Authorize their C/TPA(s) to perform specific functions, including: conducting queries, reporting violations, and reporting return-to-duty information. The C/TPA(s) will then be sent a request to confirm the designation.
  • Verify their CDL or CLP information, which will be checked against the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS). (This is required to allow student drivers to view their Clearinghouse records and respond to query requests.)
  • Agree to Clearinghouse terms and conditions.

Student drivers registering as a driver must:

  • Enter their contact information.
  • Verify their CDL or CLP, which will then be authenticated against the CDLIS.
  • Agree to Clearinghouse terms and conditions.

Self-employed CDL drivers/owner-operators working with their own USDOT number must register as both an employer and a driver, as well as register their company. Both roles can be registered at the same time, or company information can be added once driver registration is complete.

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Registering as an employer requires:

  • Confirming you are the Clearinghouse administrator/assistant for your company. This will allow you to invite or remove users.
  • Entering your contact information and company contact information.
  • Indicating whether you are an owner-operator.
  • Indicating if you need to designate a C/TPA.
  • Agreeing to the terms and conditions.

Note: Once CDL or CLP information is verified, it cannot be edited.

The Importance of the DOT Clearinghouse

 The Clearinghouse went into effect in January 2020 with the intent to improve the safety of America’s roadways. The online database provides employers and government agencies with critical information about CDL and CLP holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

Per federal regulation:

  • All businesses that employ CDL drivers, as well as CDL drivers and student drivers, must have accounts with the Clearinghouse.
  • Employers must retain all pre-employment queries for all new drivers hired since the Clearinghouse went into effect; all annual driver queries for every driver throughout their employment; and all signed consent forms.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

Not registering with the Clearinghouse—or following recordkeeping regulations—can have dire consequences. In fact, the FMCSA recently doubled fines for non-compliance: The average fine is now $5,833 per violation, compared with $2,500 in early 2021.

If you employ student drivers, you must ensure that they register with the Clearinghouse. The risk of non-compliance is simply too great. It can negatively impact your business, your CSA score, and even result in out-of-service orders.

Need help with the Clearinghouse? Foley has a full compliance solution that helps you register, receive driver consent forms, and perform pre-employment, annual, and follow-up queries. Contact us today!

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