OCTOBER 17, 2019 – Last week we started answering some of your biggest DOT Clearinghouse questions that we received during our webinar (you’ll find that blog article here). Today, we’ll answer 10 more of the most common questions asked during the event.
If you’d like to check out the webinar for yourself,
Q1: If I get a hit on a query, what is the next step?
If it was a limited query, you’ll have 24 hours to get driver consent and run a full query or the driver will need to be pulled from safety sensitive functions. This full query will enable you to see the driver’s full Clearinghouse record so that you can review the details of the violation(s). At this point you’d need to pull the driver from the road to address the issue – whether that means proceeding with the Return to Duty process or terminating their employment (depending on your company’s policy).
Q2: Do Canadian, cross-border driver need to register with the DOT Clearinghouse?
Yes, if they are a safety-sensitive driver and cross into the United States they will need to register with the Clearinghouse.
Q3: Are drivers required to comply or is it optional for them?
The DOT Clearinghouse is a federally mandated part of the drug and alcohol testing requirements for FMCSA-regulated drivers. All safety-sensitive drivers that are required to comply with DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements must create an account if they are to continue working as a CDL driver. Similarly, all of their current and future FMCSA-regulated employers are required to query their record in the Clearinghouse. If a driver doesn’t have an account, they can’t be permitted to drive for that company.
Q4: If a driver receives a roadside inspection with drug and alcohol violations, who reports that? The employer or the FMCSA?
Being caught with possession of drugs or alcohol while driving a motor vehicle – as well as driving under the influence charges – are not Part 382 violations and wouldn’t be reportable to the DOT Clearinghouse.
Q5: Will employers be required to submit information for positives/refusals to test that occurred prior to the Clearinghouse opening?
No, violations that occur prior to January 6, 2020 won’t be reported to the DOT Clearinghouse. Drivers would still need to complete the required return-to-duty process before getting on the road, but no information about that process, or the violations that occurred, would be reported unless they occurred on or after January 6.
Q6: Will we need a written policy regarding the Clearinghouse as part of our drug and alcohol program?
Yes, your drug and alcohol policy will need to be updated to reflect the new regulations surrounding the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse so that your responsibilities as an employer are clearly explained. If you’re a Foley customer, we’ll issue you an addendum that you can attach to your existing policy before the Clearinghouse goes into effect.
Q7: If you have a zero-tolerance policy for drug and/or alcohol use, and a driver who tests positive is terminated, who would be responsible for updating the information in the Clearinghouse for their enrollment in a SAP program and the subsequent required testing?
As an employer, it would be your responsibility to report the driver’s drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse. If your policy calls for termination at that point, it would be the responsibility of the Substance Abuse Professional and/or the driver’s future safety-sensitive employer to report that information.
Q8: How soon can I conduct limited queries for my existing employees?
While it may be tempting to run a limited query on your existing drivers right away, keep in mind that violations that occur prior to January 6, 2020 won’t be in the Clearinghouse. Although you can start running queries immediately once the Clearinghouse opens, there likely won’t be any information in there about your drivers yet (unless they get a violation immediately). Your best bet is to wait at least four weeks from the date the Clearinghouse goes into effect to start checking for violations.
If you want to monitor your drivers’ Clearinghouse records on an ongoing basis, you could work with a TPA that will run a limited query on each driver monthly (for example) and alert you when changes are found.
Q9: Is there a single company sign in with multiple authorized users or should each authorized user sign in separately?
Whoever sets up an employer account will have the opportunity to add additional users to the account – each of whom will have their own login to the Clearinghouse.
Q10: Is there a way to confirm that your TPA is registered with 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.
The Clearinghouse will bring a lot of changes to the industry – and with it, a lot of questions. If you have questions that we haven’t answered here, please join us for our upcoming webinar. Or, call our Clearinghouse hotline at (860) 815-0762.