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Five Steps to Querying the FMCSA Clearinghouse
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

Did you know that Foley's DOT compliance services can handle your Clearinghouse queries for you?

By now, you should know you need to run Clearinghouse queries on your CDL drivers on either one of two occasions:

  1. You’re trying to hire them for safety-sensitive duties.
  2. You need to complete their annual query, as required by the FMCSA.

You may also want to run a random query to check on their drug and alcohol violation record and ensure nothing has changed since the last query.

So, how do you perform queries in the FMCSA Clearinghouse? We’ve broken down the process into five simple steps.

  1. Ensure the driver you want to query is registered in the FMCSA Clearinghouse.
  2. Determine which type of query you need to run on the driver.
  3. Get the right type of consent from the driver before running the query.
  4. Double-check the driver’s information for accuracy.
  5. Run the correct type of query.

Follow along to find out the easiest, most compliant way to complete your FMCSA Clearinghouse driver queries.

Get Clearinghouse Compliant

Step 1: Ensure the Driver is Registered

The following roles are required to register for the Clearinghouse:

  • CDL Drivers
  • Safety-Sensitive Employers
  • Medical Review Officers
  • Substance Abuse Professionals
  • Consortium/Third Party Administrators (TPAs)
  • State Driver Licensing Agencies

Any of the roles above can register for the Clearinghouse here.

Even if you submit a query request before a driver is registered, the driver will still be able to see the request once they’ve successfully done so. They will either receive notice of the request in an email or through US mail, depending on which preferred form of communication they’ve selected. They can then either provide consent or deny the request.

If consent is denied, the driver cannot perform any safety-sensitive duties, such as driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), until it is provided and the query is completed.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Query to Run

Limited queries allow employers to determine if a driver’s FMCSA Clearinghouse record contains any information about resolved or unresolved drug or alcohol program violations. They do not release any specific violation information contained in the driver’s Clearinghouse record.

When you need to run an annual query on currently employed drivers or a periodic check on your employees’ drug and alcohol violation record, a limited query should be run.

On the other hand, full queries allow employers to see detailed information about any drug or alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Full queries must be conducted during the pre-employment process. If a limited query produces a result that indicates a driver has violations in the Clearinghouse, a full query must be run within 24 hours of receiving that result, otherwise, they will need to be removed from safety-sensitive functions until it is complete.

Step 3: Request & Receive the Proper Consent

All Clearinghouse queries require consent, but the type of consent needed depends on the query you need to run. Here is how you must receive consent for each type of query:

Limited Query Consent 

In order to perform any limited query, consent can be received outside the FMCSA Clearinghouse, via electronic or paper signature. Employers can use a blanket consent form that specifies a time range. The consent form can remain in effect for the duration of a driver’s employment, enabling them to run limited queries on drivers as often as they’d like.

Full Query Consent 

For every full query performed for each individual driver, consent must be received electronically within the Clearinghouse. A full list of violations and/or return-to-duty details (if any) will be released once consent is received and the query is completed.

Are you getting compliant consent  for your Clearinghouse queries?

Step 4: Ensure Driver Information is Accurate

You will need the driver’s full name, date of birth, and driver’s license number to conduct either type of query in the FMCSA Clearinghouse. If there are any errors in the driver’s information, the query will not be completed. Make sure you have all the required information to ensure an accurate query result.

Step 5: Conduct the Proper Query

At this point, you should have everything you need to successfully run a Clearinghouse query on your driver. Keep in mind, the Clearinghouse will only house violation data that occurred on or after January 6, 2020, when it was officially put in place.

You can also assign Foley as your designated TPA to run these queries on your behalf. You won’t have to worry about running pre-employment or annual queries, as we will take care of them for you as a part of your DOT compliance services!

BONUS Step 6: Follow DOT Recordkeeping Requirements

Motor carriers must maintain a record of all DOT Clearinghouse checks, as well as a record of a signed consent form for each driver, for a minimum of three years. These records should be stored in a secure location that’s easy for you to access in the event of a DOT compliance audit.

Get FMCSA Clearinghouse Compliant with Foley

Another important compliance reminder: as of January 6th, maintaining a valid FMCSA Clearinghouse registration and running pre-employment queries allows you to complete the drug and alcohol violation portion of the safety performance history check for all new CDL drivers you hire. You still need to contact their previous employers for other violation history data, such as accidents.

Are you part of the 1 in 3 carriers  who aren’t Clearinghouse compliant?

Need further clarification on Clearinghouse queries, the new safety performance history regulations, or even getting started in the Clearinghouse? Foley has you covered.

Our DOT compliance services can be customized to include FMCSA Clearinghouse services, which will perform limited and full queries as needed. You’ll never have to worry about pre-employment or annual Clearinghouse query deadlines again!

Request a FREE software demo now to see how Foley’s Clearinghouse expertise can work in your favor. Simply fill out the form below to get started. 

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