Effective January 6, 2023, the FMCSA clearinghouse will become the sole query source for employers to meet the requirement to identify prospective drivers with drug and alcohol violations.
When the CDL Clearinghouse was first implemented, there was no drug and alcohol data in the system. The Clearinghouse stores records pertaining to FMCSA drug and/or alcohol violations that are verified on or after January 6, 2020.
This information includes:
- A verified positive, adulterated, or substituted controlled substance test
- Refusal to test, including failure to appear
- A verified positive EBT above .039
- Actual knowledge of illicit alcohol or drug use while operating a CMV
- Negative Return-to-Duty test result
- Completion of follow-up program
- Eligibility for Return-to-Duty testing
Now, after three years, the clearinghouse has enough information that fleets could query new drivers without having to query the database AND call previous employers for drug and alcohol information.
While this does save time, employers are still required to reach out for other driver qualification file required history.
What are driver qualification files?
DOT Rule 49 CFR Part 391.23 describes what is required by DOT on an employment verification report. Generally, within 30 days, the DOT requires employers to verify an applicant’s safety performance history with previous employers for at least the past three years, including commercial driving history.
DQ files are needed even if the driver is salaried, a mechanic, the owner of the company, a part-time temp driver, is only driving one time, works for a private company, etc.
After a job offer is extended to a driver, carriers need to build a driver file that includes:
- driver’s licenses
- employment application
- previous employer inquires
- motor vehicle records
- credit history and background checks
- drug test results
- FMCSA Clearinghouse queries
- medical certificates
- and more
Failure to maintain the basics of these driver qualification files can lead to CSA violations, fines, an Unsatisfactory Safety Rating, and Out-of-Service Orders.
What is actually changing?
The purpose of the FMCSA Clearinghouse is to prevent job hopping of CDL drivers by tracking positive drug and alcohol test results, refusals to test or information on a driver’s return-to-duty process.
Basically, when hiring a CDL driver, the company will still call the previous employer(s) to gather safety history and other information about the driver. However, they don’t have to ask about the drug testing history since the clearinghouse database already has all this information.
Basically, a new employer will spend half the time on everything involved in a phone call to previous employers.
There is one caveat to this new process. If the driver was previously employed by a non-motor carrier, or an employer regulated under a different modal agency than FMCSA, carriers are obligated to continue the manual process of reaching out to previous employers about any drug or alcohol violations.
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).