The limited query is appropriate for the requirement of an annual check or query on all covered drivers. The limited query only checks if a driver has information in the system and the system will return a ‘Yes” or ‘No” answer. For the limited query, a driver consent is required but this consent is outside of the Clearinghouse and the employer must keep this consent on file indicating they have permission from the driver for the limited query for a designated time period. A minimum of two years is recommended.
With the limited query, the employer will be able to upload a file and do annual requirement of the limited queries all at once. These annual queries are performed to ensure that a driver did not violate the drug and alcohol program with another employer.
When a limited query gets a yes indicating the Clearinghouse has information on a driver, a full query is then required for the employer to determine the drivers’ eligibility for new or continued employment. This would then cause an FMCSA verification of specific driver consent before releasing information.
Queries for new hires must be full queries which will provide all information in the system regarding the driver – positive tests, refusals and SAP final determinations of return to duty. With full queries, driver consent must be provided to the Clearinghouse. Once the Clearinghouse receives a full query, the system will notify the driver that an employer is seeking their information. This, of course, requires driver registration to provide the consent. FMCSA has stated the system will also be phone enabled for ease of drivers to consent. If the driver does not consent and the query cannot be answered the employer will not be able to hire the driver to perform safety-sensitive functions such as driving a commercial motor vehicle.
A full query is required for pre-employment this is to ensure the new employee is eligible to drive. With this full query, the FMCSA must verify specific driver consent prior to releasing information.
FMCSA regulated motor carriers will be required to pay a fee to query the Clearinghouse. The amount fee amount has not yet been determined (as of 08/03/2019), but FMCSA has stated it will include options for subscription and batch use.
If a driver does not consent or refused to consent to a full query, the employer will not be able to hire this driver. Drivers must register in the Clearinghouse in order to provide consent for a full query.