Pre-employment reviews for violations of drug and alcohol related violations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes an online clearinghouse of publicly available safety data to improve public safety and ease of access. To that end, the FMCSA released a new clearinghouse update in November 2022.
If you’re not familiar with the Clearinghouse, read on to learn what you need to know about how this latest iteration of the clearinghouse may affect your business.
The Update: Under 49 CFR 391.23 (e), a pre-employment Clearinghouse inquiry will be necessary as of January 6, 2023, to look up a potential driver’s prior infractions of drug and alcohol violations.
Before hiring a driver, employers of CDL drivers are required to perform background checks. Finding out if the driver has infringed on any Department of Transportation (DOT) drug or alcohol laws during the last three years is a part of this procedure (see 49 CFR 391.23(e)). To comply with the three-year time limit, employers or their designated consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) must currently do automated queries in the Clearinghouse and manual inquiries with prior employers.
Starting January 6, 2023, when three years of Clearinghouse violation data is stored, prospective employers may no longer perform manual inquiries. According to §§ 382.413(b) and 391.23(e)(4), on January 6, 2023, prospective employers must perform a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse as outlined in § 382.701(a) to comply with the inquiry requirement in § 391.23(e) for FMCSA-regulated employers.
What exactly is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse)?
Employers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel can access The Clearinghouse, a secure online database, to get up-to-date information about drug and alcohol program violations by holders of commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) and commercial learner’s permits (CLP).
Records of drug and alcohol prohibition violations in 49 CFR Part 382, Subpart B, including positive drug or alcohol test outcomes and test refusals, are kept in the Clearinghouse. This data is also entered into the Clearinghouse once a driver has completed the return-to-duty (RTD) procedure and the follow-up testing plan.
Requirements for Annual Queries Have Not Changed
For each CDL driver they hire, employers must run a query in the Clearinghouse at least once a year (see 382.701(b)). This annual query requirement operates on a 12-month basis, so if your most recent annual inquiries were completed in December 2021, it is time to complete the next round of annual questions.
Before submitting a limited query to the Clearinghouse to access the information of CDL drivers they employ, employers must get the driver’s general approval (you can download a sample limited query consent form).
Are your yearly inquiries updated?
You can submit your annual queries with the help of TMS Digital. You can also see the history of your annual queries, due dates, and status on your Query History page. To view your Query History, log in to the Clearinghouse and visit your Query History page.
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