DOT Clearinghouse FAQs
What is the DOT Clearinghouse?
The DOT Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give safety-sensitive employers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about drug and alcohol violations for CDL/CLP drivers.
- The Clearinghouse will contain records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions in the Code of Federal Regulations, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals
- When a driver completes the return-to-duty (RTD) process and follow-up testing plan, this information will also be recorded in the Clearinghouse
Who is Impacted by the Clearinghouse?
All safety sensitive drivers that are required to participate in a DOT drug and alcohol testing program will be impacted by the Clearinghouse – as will their employers. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including passenger carriers
- School bus drivers
- Construction equipment operators
- Limousine drivers
- Municipal vehicle drivers (e.g., waste management vehicles)
- Federal and other organizations that employ drivers subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol testing regulations (e.g., Department of Defense, municipalities, school districts)
When Does the DOT Clearinghouse Go into Effect?
The Clearinghouse will be operational on January 6, 2020. All DOT drug and alcohol violations that occur once the Clearinghouse goes into effect will be reported to the Clearinghouse and entered on the driver’s record. Employers will also be required to run both a pre-employment Clearinghouse query on all new drivers prior to hiring them. They’ll also be required to run an annual query on all drivers throughout their employment.
Does the Clearinghouse Rule Change Any of the Existing Drug and Alcohol Program Requirements in Part 40?
No, there have been no changes to the DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements for safety sensitive drivers. The Clearinghouse simply serves as a database where any violations that result from your drug and alcohol testing program will be reported.
Who is Authorized to Use the Clearinghouse?
Because of the sensitive nature of the information contained in the database, access is limited to those involved in the DOT drug and alcohol testing process. The only parties that can (and will be required) to use the Clearinghouse are:
- Safety-sensitive employers
- CDL drivers
- Consortia/Third-Party Administrators
- Substance Abuse Professionals
- Medical Review Professionals
Is There a Way to Confirm That Your TPA is Registered in the Clearinghouse?
When you’re setting up your employer account, you’ll have the opportunity to search for (and designate) your TPA. If you can’t find yours when creating an account, you should give them a call to ask when they’ll be registered. Like employers, all TPAs will need to be registered before January 6, 2020.
Who Must Register with the Clearinghouse?
If you are one of the following parties, you must register for the Clearinghouse:
- Safety-sensitive employer
- Consortia/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA)
- Medical Review Officer (MRO)
- Substance Abuse Professional (SAP)
CDL/CLP drivers will also need to create an account IF they want to check their Clearinghouse record for accuracy or if they need to consent to a full query. All other parties must have an account registered prior to the January 6, 2020 compliance deadline.
How do I Create a Clearinghouse Account?
To register with the DOT Clearinghouse, please click here. If you need registration assistance, you can give us a call at (860) 815-0762 and we’ll walk you through the process.
What is a Clearinghouse Administrator?
The company representative that completes the registration process will be assigned as the Clearinghouse Administrator. In this role, they’ll be able to manage users on behalf of the company.
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.
What are Clearinghouse Queries?
In the DOT Clearinghouse, employers will be able to run queries on their drivers’ records to check for drug and alcohol violations. There are two types of queries available:
- Limited Queries only confirm whether a record exists for a driver – it doesn’t share what the details of that driver’s record is
- Full Queries provide all of the details of a driver’s record in the Clearinghouse including the type of violation and when it occurred
If an employer runs a limited query and it results in a “hit,” they will be required to get consent from the driver to run a full query within 24 hours.
How Do I Run Queries?
To run a Clearinghouse query, you must first login to your account and purchase a query plan. Each limited and full query costs $1.25. If you are a large employer that plans to run a large volume of queries each year, there is an unlimited option, as well.
What Type of Consent is Required to Run Clearinghouse Queries?
Because the DOT Clearinghouse is protected by both the Privacy Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act, employers are required to get consent prior to running a query on a driver. The type of consent required is different depending on the query run:
- Limited Queries require a consent form. Employers can have drivers sign a blanket consent form that enables you to run limited queries throughout their employment.
- Full Queries require electronic consent within the Clearinghouse every time a full query is run. Drivers must login to their Clearinghouse account to give consent within 24 hours or they’ll be pulled from safety sensitive functions.
Will Employers Be Notified of a Change to a Driver's Clearinghouse Record?
Employers will only be notified of a change to a driver’s Clearinghouse record if that change occurs within 30 days of a full, pre-employment query. Once the employer is notified of the change, they’ll need to get the driver’s electronic consent before they can access the new information.
Are Employers Required to Run Queries?
Employers are required to run queries on CDL drivers at two times:
- A full, pre-employment query must be run prior to hiring a new driver
- A limited query must be run on all drivers at least once every 12 months for the duration of each driver’s employment
Are Employers Able to Query the Clearinghouse for Non-CDL Drivers?
No. Employers are only allowed to conduct queries on CDL drivers. If they hire a non-CDL driver they are not allowed to check the Clearinghouse – even if that driver held CDL driving positions in the past.
Can a TPA Run Queries on the Employer's Behalf?
Yes. While employers must purchase a query plan themselves, they can designate a TPA such as Foley in their account. This will enable the TPA to run full and limited queries on their behalf.
Can Employers Run Queries More Often Than Required?
Yes. As long as the employer gets the required driver consents, they’ll be able to run queries as often as they’d like.
When a Driver Provides Consent for a Full Clearinghouse Query, How Long is that 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.
When Do I Need to Start Running Limited Queries on 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.
Will an Employer's Current Release of Information/Authorization for the Privacy Act and FCRA Comply With the New Clearinghouse Consent Requirements?
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.
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.
What Information are Employers Required to Report to the Clearinghouse?
Employers of CDL drivers are required to report the following information to the Clearinghouse:
- An alcohol confirmation test result with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater;
- A CDL driver’s refusal to submit to a Department of Transportation (DOT) test for drug or alcohol use;
- Actual knowledge, as defined in § 382.107;
- The negative RTD test results;
- The date the driver successfully completed all follow-up tests as ordered by the substance abuse professional (SAP).
When Reporting an Actual Knowledge Violation, What Information are Employers Required to Provide?
When reporting an actual knowledge violation, employers are required to provide the following information:
- Driver’s name, date of birth, commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and State of issuance;
- Employer name, address, and USDOT number, if applicable;
- Date the employer obtained actual knowledge of the violation;
- Witnesses to the violation, if any, including contact information;
- Description of the violation;
- Evidence supporting each fact alleged in the description of the violation, which may include, but is not limited to, affidavits, photographs, video or audio recordings, employee statements (other than admissions pursuant to § 382.121), correspondence, or other documentation; and
- A certificate of service or other evidence showing that the employer provided the employee with all information reported.
What is an Actual Knowledge Violation?
DOT regulations require employers who have actual knowledge of a driver’s drug and/or alcohol use to report those violations to the Clearinghouse. Violations may also be reported by a C/TPA working on the employer’s behalf.
As defined in Regulation 382.107 an actual knowledge violation is, “based on the employer’s direct observation of the employee, information provided by the driver’s previous employer(s), a traffic citation for driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, or an employee’s admission of alcohol or controlled substances use.”
How is Violation and Return-to-Duty Information Reported to the Clearinghouse?
The final Clearinghouse rule requires the following individuals to report the following information to the Clearinghouse:
- Employers, or consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) acting on behalf of an employer, enter drug and alcohol program violation information into the Clearinghouse.
- Medical review officers (MROs) enter drug violation information. The driver does not need to be registered in the Clearinghouse for a violation to be added to their Clearinghouse record.
- Substance abuse professionals (SAPs) enter the date of initial SAP assessment and date the driver is eligible for RTD testing.
- Employers will enter the negative RTD test result(s) and the date the driver’s follow-up testing plan has been successfully completed.
Will Violations That Occur Prior to the Implementation Date be Included in the Clearinghouse?
No. The Clearinghouse will only contain violations that occurred (in the case of actual knowledge) or have been confirmed by an MRO on or after January 6, 2020. Therefore, if a driver goes for a drug test and tests positive prior to that date, but the test is confirmed on January 6, the violation will be entered into the Clearinghouse.
Can an Employer Report Non-DOT Violations to the Clearinghouse?
No, only DOT drug and alcohol violations may be reported to the Clearinghouse. If a driver test positive for drug use that is part of an employee drug-free workplace program, for example, that can’t be reported to the Clearinghouse.
What is the Timeframe for Reporting Violations?
Employers must report drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse by the close of the third business day that they obtained the information. If an employer misses that deadline, the violation must still be reported. However, it result in a fine during an FMCSA audit.
Are There Different Reporting Requirements for Owner Operators?
Yes. If you are an owner operator, you will not be allowed to report refusals to test to the Clearinghouse for yourself. All owner operators are required to work with a Third Party Administrator to report these violations on their behalf.
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