According to Landline Magazine on Dec 30, several owner-operators are experiencing difficulties registering for FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and that they haven’t found any help through the agency’s 800 number as Clearinghouse hits traffic jam.
Do you remember the beginning of 2020 when the crash of the FMCSA’s CDL Clearinghouse website caused registration confusion?
The launch was supposed to be a smooth process as companies had three months prior to register. But few did.
As a result of so many people attempting to register through the website at the last minute, the website was overloaded and crashed, causing registration errors and quick fixes just to get people in the system.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database where new drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information of CDL drivers is stored and searched.
This database has worked well in preventing drug users from job hopping, as well as open the book on what is happening real-time with the trucking industry drug testing statistics.
In the first 8 months the Clearinghouse was in effect, over 35,000 drivers were found with a positive drug test forcing them to begin the return-to-duty and SAP process before getting back on the road.
DOT’s Clearinghouse faces a key test as fleets will likely flood the system in the coming weeks — CCJ ArticleCCJ Article – Nov 4, 2020
“We’ll see what happens with it,” said Lucas Kibby, marketing specialist at Compliance Navigation Specialists. “There’s going to be a large influx of people going to the site around the end of December and into the first few weeks of January, when people start realizing the rules.”
According to the latest Clearinghouse report, marijuana accounted for nearly half of the positive drug test results, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine.
However, we are now less than three months away from another major Clearinghouse deadline where companies could face fines, if in violation.
Clearinghouse website may crash again as required annual query deadline approaches
With the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes, employers of CDL drivers must follow a new pre-employment process when hiring a potential new driver.
Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if new-hired drivers start driving before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.
The employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present.
The other major required process for employers, including owner-operators, is to annually query all current CDL drivers at least once a year to make sure no violations appeared in the database. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.
This means the majority of CDL drivers need to have had a limited query run on them by January 6, 2021 or face potential violations and fines if found to be done late or not at all during an audit.
Early Clearinghouse registration issues led officials to advise employers to wait to register until December 2020 or January 2021. Consequently, a large spike in DOT Clearinghouse web traffic is expected as companies rush to register and submit annual queries to the DOT Clearinghouse before the deadline.
What fleets need to do before 2021 deadline
Every employer with CDL drivers needs to verify that they are registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. After registering, employers will purchase query tokens that will be used to when they want to run limited or detailed queries on their drivers or potential new drivers.
Owner-operators should purchase around 5 query token to run their annual queries each year, lasting them five years before they need to purchase more tokens.
Larger fleets should purchase query plans around two-and-a-half times their driver size to last two years of annual queries and a handful of new hire drivers.
Finally, annual queries can be ran on all CDL drivers within the company.
Drug and Alcohol Services
Do you need help registering to the FMCSA Clearinghouse or looking to switch to a trusted drug testing consortium?
At CNS, we offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA).