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Have You Run Your Pre-Employment Queries?
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

As we’re sure you’re aware, the DOT Clearinghouse went into effect in January 2020 with a full pre-employment (PE) query requirement. If you haven’t yet run a PE query on every CMV driver you hired since then, now’s the time do so.

What’s the Purpose of Pre-Employment Queries? 

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, the Clearinghouse final rule requires the following:  

  • Employers must query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a CMV on public roads. 
  • Employers must annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ. 

The ultimate goal of the Clearinghouse is to make the roadways safer for everyone, including truck drivers. By using the Clearinghouse, the FMCSA and employers can identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV due to DOT drug and alcohol program violations. They can also ensure that these drivers receive the necessary evaluation and treatment, such as drug or alcohol counseling, before operating a CMV on public roads once again.  

The information available through the Clearinghouse gives employers the ability to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but then fail to subsequently inform another employer, which is now required by current regulations.  

Before the Clearinghouse was established, drivers were not required to disclose any drug or alcohol-related violations that occurred while they worked for a different employer. Plain and simple, this allowed prospective employees to create the illusion of having a “clean” record in the eyes of their new employers.  

Records of drug and alcohol program violations are maintained in the Clearinghouse for five years, or until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process, whichever is later. Employers can now access this information to have a completely truthful and verifiable record of prospective hires before they join their fleets.  

Get Help Managing Your Clearinghouse Requirements

What’s the Difference Between a Full and Limited Query? 

A limited query allows an employer to determine if an individual driver’s record exists in the Clearinghouse, but specific violation information is not released.  

Only a general driver consent is required for limited queries, which is not obtained within the Clearinghouse. The general consent may be effective for more than one year and is therefore not required on an annual basis; however, the limited consent request must include the specific timeframe for which the driver is providing consent.  

On the other hand, detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record is available through a full query. A driver must give electronic consent in the Clearinghouse before an employer runs a pre-employment query since full queries release detailed driver information. The employer can use the limited consent form used to run the annual query. 

It’s important to note that the annual query does not meet the pre-employment query requirement, since the annual is a limited query that only shows if a driver’s information exists in the Clearinghouse. 

After a full pre-employment query is conducted, employers will be notified within 30 days if there are changes to a driver’s Clearinghouse record. Employers must obtain the driver’s electronic consent in the Clearinghouse before they can access the updated information.  

Remember – a record of all queries must be kept on file and may need to be produced during an audit. 

What are Employers Required to do in the Clearinghouse? 

As of January 6, 2020, employers must do the following five things: 

  • Conduct a full pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse during each driver’s pre-hiring process 
  • Conduct limited queries for every driver on their payroll at least on an annual basis 
  • Request electronic consent from each driver for any full query, such as pre-employment queries 
  • Report drivers’ drug and alcohol program violations 
  • For any employed driver with unresolved violations, keep records of any return-to-duty (RTD) drug test results and the date of successful completion of follow-up testing plans 

DOT Clearinghouse Fines Just Doubled. Are You Compliant? 

What if I Haven’t Run PE Queries for New Drivers? 

If you haven’t run a full pre-employment Clearinghouse query on every new CMV driver you’ve hired since January 2020, you must do so immediately. You could be at risk of sky-high fines of $5,833 per violation if you do not have these queries on file.  

You also may not be up to date on any violations your new-hire employees may have committed. Since it went live, over 115,000 violations have been reported to the Clearinghouse, with positive drug tests accounting for 82% of the total violations reported. Don’t risk the safety of your employees or other drivers on the road – or the reputation of your company; start the Clearinghouse registration process today! 

How Foley Can Help You Navigate Clearinghouse Enforcement 

Our compliance team can help you register for the FMCSA Clearinghouse, run queries on your company’s behalf, get individual driver consent for said queries, and maintain a record of all completed queries for you to easily produce to auditors. 

Get your free demo of our automated program to get on track to achieve full compliance with the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse!

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