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DOT Clearinghouse Webinar: Your Questions Answered
7 mins read

OCTOBER 10, 2019 – Did  you attend our DOT Clearinghouse webinar last week? If so, you were part of a great conversation about this upcoming regulatory change as well as the implications for carriers’ compliance and time to hire.

If not, there’s still time to catch it. Join Our FREE Webinar on Clearinghouse Compliance! Sign Up Today

Although we tried to leave ample time for questions after the session, we received more questions then we could realistically answer at the end of the hour. Here are some questions that came up repeatedly during the event. If you have additional questions that you’d like answered, please visit our DOT Clearinghouse page at or give our Clearinghouse Hotline a call at (860) 815-0762.

Q1: Will the DOT Clearinghouse negate the need for employers to check with prior employers regarding the safety performance history of their new employees?

No, because the Clearinghouse won’t have three years worth of history until 2023, employers will still be required to contact prior employers until that date to ask about any drug and alcohol history that isn’t available in the Clearinghouse. This history will need to be filed away in the Driver Qualification File, as it is now.

Q2: If a limited query reveals a record, will you have to pay again to run the full query?

No, according to the Clearinghouse website, an employer will only have to pay once. If a limited query reveals a “hit” on the driver’s record, the employer will be able to run a second, full query for free.

Q3: If the MRO is required to report, why would the TPA and/or employer have to report also? Wouldn’t that be duplicate information?

Each party is required to report different information to the Clearinghouse, so there won’t be any duplicate data. Medical Review Officers report all positive drug test results. Employers/TPAs report out on  actual knowledge and alcohol violations.

 Q4: What is the time span from query request and driver authorization to receipt of results?

If a limited query shows that information exists on a driver’s record, then they are required to give consent for a full query to be run within 24 hours. If they don’t, they’ll be pulled from safety sensitive functions until consent is given.

Once the employer or TPA has consent and the query is run, the information is available immediately.

Q5: Is there a requirement for adverse action notification?

Yes, adverse action procedures must be followed if you plan to take negative action against a prospective or current employee. This would be the same process you’re currently following if a PSP or motor vehicle report reveals information that impacts the driver’s employment. We wrote about this process recently if you need additional information.

Q6: I tried to sign up for the Clearinghouse portal today and was having so many issues with the sign-up process. I kept experiencing errors…is this due to high volume? Will it improve?

Like many new technologies, the Clearinghouse portal is likely experiencing some initial issues that will hopefully be worked out in time. Some of this may be due to high volume, although the FMCSA hasn’t released any information about the cause.

This does highlight the importance of registering early, however…especially since volume will likely increase as the year comes to a close. The sooner you can get in there, the more time you’ll have to get  your account set up before the compliance deadline hits.

Need a TPA for Clearinghouse Compliance? We Can Help!

Q7: We already have a release of information/authorization for the Privacy Act and FCRA. Do we need to get a new authorization from our drivers?

The FMCSA has specified that employers should have a Clearinghouse release for limited queries that is time bound (for the duration of a driver’s employment, etc.) .While it’s possible that this release can be included with your current disclosures and authorizations, you’ll want to discuss that with your lawyer first.

Q8: When do I need to start the annual limited queries for current drivers?

When the Clearinghouse goes into effect on January 6, 2020, employers will be required to run an annual query on each of their drivers. While you can run this check any time after the Clearinghouse opens, there isn’t an immediate need to run a query for your drivers. In fact, with so little information available in the Clearinghouse when it opens, it’s probably better to wait at least a few months to begin running those checks. For compliance purposes, you should pull at least one query for all of your drivers prior to January 6, 2021.

Q9: When a driver provides consent for a full Clearinghouse query, how long is the consent valid?

You must get consent from a driver each time you run a full query on them in the Clearinghouse. This consent is given by the driver in the Clearinghouse portal and is only valid for that one check.

For limited checks, you may get written consent for your drivers for a specific length of time (such as the duration of employment) that enables you to run limited queries on an ongoing basis. With this consent form on record, you would only need to get consent in the future when a full check needs to be run.

Related Article: How the DOT Clearinghouse will Impact Your Compliance Programs

Q10: How can a driver register themselves if they don’t have a computer or email address?

Drivers will be required to have computer access and an email address to set up an account in the Clearinghouse. They will also need to be able to log into their Clearinghouse accounts periodically to give an employer consent to run a full query or to check the accuracy of the information on their records.

Still have questions? Visit our Clearinghouse page for more information. We’ll answer more of your webinar questions in Part 2 of this blog next week.

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