Comply with 2020 mandatory Clearinghouse Rule (part 1)


On January 6, 2020, the Clearinghouse Rule, implemented by Congress in 2016, goes into mandatory effect.

How does this impact drivers and companies?

It depends on the size of your fleet, but one fact is clear, every carrier must participate.

Of course, all drivers with a CDL have already had to comply with the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol regulations. Until now, all CDL drivers should have been in a random drug-and-alcohol consortium. However, the new Rule goes a step further than that.

Beginning January 6, 2020, all drivers holding a CDL are responsible for setting up an account in the Clearinghouse, including large-to-mid-sized fleets and owner-operators.

If you need assistance setting up an account in the Clearinghouse, please call us at 888.260.9448 or email us at info@cnsprotects.com.

The FMCSA is aware that not all CDL drivers are currently registered in a drug-and-alcohol consortium. With the new regulations finally going into effect, it will be virtually impossible for owner-operators to avoid being in the Clearinghouse.

For instance, all drivers need to have an annual query (an electronic check) run in the Clearinghouse. Therefore, an owner-operator, employing themselves as a single-driver, must hire a consortium or third-party administrator (C/TPA) to run a query.

Or, a driver looking to switch employers needs to be in the Clearinghouse for a prospective employer to run a full query. Queries will show whether there is anything in the Clearinghouse on that driver that requires further investigation or prohibits them from performing safety-sensitive functions.

We offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Services and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA). If you are in need consortium management, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

What information is stored in the Clearinghouse?

The CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will store three years of data on drivers including positive drug tests, test refusals, and alcohol violations. Complete and incomplete return-to-duty processes will also be recorded. This information will remain in the Clearinghouse database for three years.

Employers and fleets may run two types of queries:

  • Full queries (required for new hires) supply all information details
  • Limited queries (required for all drivers annually) will only reveal whether or not the database contains any information on the driver; carriers can ask for full queries after that finding

Ensure compliance with new FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Regulations

Now that the Clearinghouse Rule becomes mandatory in less than a month, here’s what drivers and companies can do to become compliant:

CDL Drivers

All CDL drivers need to have an account for any prospective or current employer to run the required new-hire queries. Drivers can also view records and petition for any corrections as needed.

If you are a CDL driver, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Register an account in the Clearinghouse
  2. Provide electronic consent to release information during a full query
    1. If a driver does not give consent within 24 hours, they are disqualified from driving until authorization is given
  3. Review records for accuracy
  4. Identify a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) to report on return-to-duty activities if unresolved violations are on record

Owner-operators (one-truck/independent)

Any single-driver operation must comply with requirements for BOTH employees (drivers) and employers (fleets/companies).

If you are a one-truck or independent owner-operator, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Register an account in the Clearinghouse as a company
  2. Designate a consortium or third-party administrator (C/TPA) to handle queries. This is required of all owner-operators (Contact Compliance Navigation Specialists)
  3. Notify the consortium (or TPA) that they are the designee.
  4. Amend any contracts to reflect the designated consortium (Designation and contract amendments will be two separate steps, and both must be carried out)
  5. Purchase bundles of queries for the consortium to query the database on an annual basis

OPTIONAL: Invite assistants/other employees to allow them access to the Clearinghouse on your behalf. They should register as part of your company.

Owner-operators (leased)

If you are a leased owner-operator, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Register an account in the Clearinghouse
  2. Although not explicitly stated in the Rule, an account is needed for switching fleets, as each new fleet will need to make a query
  3. Provide electronic consent for full queries

Small and large fleet operators

The two main changes for small and large fleet operators are amending policies and employee information.

If you are a small or large fleet operator, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Register as an employer in the Clearinghouse
  2. Purchase bundles of queries
  3. Amend fleet policies to reflect that any positive drug tests, test refusals, or violations will be submitted to the Clearinghouse
  4. Explain these new policies to drivers prior to January 6, 2020
  5. Determine if administration of drug-screening will be handled in-house or outsourced. If outsourced, designate the provider in the Clearinghouse and contract them as a designee (Designation and contract amendments will be two separate steps, and both must be carried out)
  6. Continue to call applicant’s prior employees to ask about failed or refused drug tests until 2023. Since the Clearinghouse will not reflect past data, it will take three years until the Clearinghouse is fully up-to-date.

OPTIONAL: Designate a consortium or third-party administrator (C/TPA) to handle queries.

Learn more about changes to Clearinghouse reporting forms


Drug and Alcohol Services

Register now to ensure compliance with FMCSA regulations

Compliance Navigation Specialists offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Administration Services (C/TPA).

We work with Quest Diagnostics and have over 10,000 locations available for testing.

If you have any questions, call 888.260.9448 or email at info@cnsprotects.com.