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Understanding the DOT Clearinghouse Pre-Employment Query Requirement
3 mins read
Over the last few months, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the DOT Clearinghouse annual query requirement.

But, if you’ve hired CDL drivers since the DOT Clearinghouse went into effect in January 2020, it’s not the only query requirement you need to meet. Each of these drivers also needs to have a pre-employment query on file.

[New Webinar] A Year of Clearinghouse Violations & Enforcement

What Does the Regulation Say?

According to the FMCSA, employers must run a pre-employment query on all new CDL drivers before they get behind the wheel to ensure they don’t have any drug and alcohol violations that would disqualify them from operating a commercial motor vehicle.  Employers are required to keep a record of these queries on file and may be asked to produce them during an audit.

Does the Annual Query Qualify?

No, the annual query you just ran on your CDL drivers to satisfy the annual requirement does not also meet your pre-employment query requirement:

  • The annual query is a limited query that simply shows whether information on a driver exists in the Clearinghouse
  • The pre-employment query is a full Clearinghouse query that shows the full details of a driver’s record – including all drug and alcohol violations and whether or not they’ve gone through the return-to-duty process

Because the pre-employment query reveals all of the information about a driver in the Clearinghouse, it requires drivers to give electronic consent before you’re able to run the query. The limited consent form used to run the annual query will not suffice.

DOT Clearinghouse Fines Just Doubled. Are You Compliant?

What is My Driver’s Responsibility?

Although it is your responsibility to run the DOT Clearinghouse query on your new drivers, they are responsible for both creating a Clearinghouse account and accepting your electronic query request in a timely manner. To ensure this goes smoothly, it’s important that you remind them to create an account (if they haven’t done so already) during the pre-hire process.

What if I Haven’t Met This Requirement for All New Drivers?

If you haven’t yet run a pre-employment Clearinghouse query on every new driver you’ve hired in the past year, you’ll need to get those completed as soon as possible. The fines for DOT Clearinghouse violations have recently increased significantly, putting you at risk of fines of $5,833 per violation if these queries aren’t on file.

If you need help running a compliant program, Foley’s comprehensive DOT Clearinghouse program can make sure you have everything you need to operate compliantly. Click here to learn more about our automated solution and schedule your free demo. 

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