FMCSA Clearinghouse Loophole is Closing Soon

FMCSA Clearinghouse Loophole is Closing Soon

On January 6, 2020, the FMCSA launched the CDL Clearinghouse, an online database where CDL driver drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information will be stored and searched.

The purpose of the CDL Clearinghouse is to prevent job hopping of CDL drivers with positive drug and alcohol test results, refusal to test or information on a driver’s return-to-duty process.

According to FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutchinson at the Truckload Carrier Association, the agency is closing another loophole in its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

[Related: Consortium Versus Clearinghouse: DOT Drug and Alcohol Requirements]

What is the Clearinghouse loophole that is being closed?

The loophole being closed is when a driver has a drug or alcohol violation reported by another employer after a pre-employment query, but before the next annual one.

“The Clearinghouse will very soon start notifying employers if there is a change to a driver’s clearinghouse record for up to 12 months following the query,” said Hutcheson.

This is important for drivers who work for multiple companies because one of their companies may catch a drug testing violation and prevent the driver from operating with them until the SAP process is completed.

However, the other companies the driver works for do not know of the recent violation and the driver can illegally drive until they are caught after a detailed audit or an annual query is performed.

DOT Compliance Specialists at CNS said closing this loophole “is a good change and is just one more step forward in making the roads safer for everyone.”

This loophole happens within the three main employer Clearinghouse requirements:

  1. Before the new hire driver can be tested, 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
  2. Until January 6, 2023, employers were required to query the Clearinghouse and request 3 years of drug and alcohol testing history. (After January 6, 2023, the clearinghouse query replaced the need for employer requests.)
  3. Employers must run annual limited queries for current drivers at least once a year. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required.

Carriers are required to perform a clearinghouse query on all drivers annually or face a fine of up to $2,500 per offense if non-compliance surfaces in a compliance review or safety audit.

When will the change happen?

The change takes effect later this month, and employers will be notified via email when a driver with a query has new information on his or her record.

This is on top of FMCSA simplifying the pre-employment history checks.

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.

Effective January 6, 2023, the FMCSA clearinghouse became the sole query source for employers to meet the requirement to identify prospective drivers with drug and alcohol violations.

While this does save time, employers are still required to reach out for other driver qualification file required history.

For more information, contact us at 888.260.9448 or info@cnsprotects.com.

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