Employer Requirements in the Clearinghouse

As an FMCSA regulated employer, you have requirements to work in the new FMCSA Clearinghouse database.  What should you be doing?

First and foremost, you must register as an employer in the FMCSA Clearinghouse.  It is best to use the Employer registration instructions for the Clearinghouse to help register.  If you have a DOT number, you need to have an FMCSA portal.  Make sure your portal account is up to date before you register in the Clearinghouse.  Also, in your portal account you must add a Clearinghouse user role, follow these instructions

As of Wednesday, January 8, 2020 because of high volume of users, both the Clearinghouse and FMCSA Portals are experiencing delays, timeouts and crashes.  Please be patient, the best time to try and register is very early in the morning or in the evening. After a few weeks these website issues should clear up. 

Once employers are registered, they should designate a C/TPA if applicable and purchase a query plan.  You will designate a C/TPA if you have an arrangement with a Consortium/Third Party Administrator to perform Clearinghouse services on your behalf.  ClearinghouseServices.com is a C/TPA that you can work to assist you with the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

The query plan is necessary for you to run queries or for the C/TPA to run queries on your behalf.  The FMCSA charges $1.25 per query. We recommend you purchase a number of queries equal to the number of employees you have times 2.  The C/TPA cannot purchase the queries from FMCSA, only the employer can purchase queries. The C/TPA can run queries on your behalf. Each year the employer (or C/TPA) must run an annual query on all existing employees.  

After Clearinghouse Registration 

You are now registered, purchased queries and designated a C/TPA (if applicable).  You need to run a query on any new driver coming onboard. The new driver must be registered in the Clearinghouse and consent to the new pre-employment query.  This is done inside the Clearinghouse. You also must continue with the previous process of previous employer checks, using a paper form to check with previous employers (going back 3 years) to verify drug & alcohol violations and appropriate return to duty process for eligibility. 

As of Wednesday, January 8, 2020 because of Clearinghouse website issues, the FMCSA Clearinghouse officials have suspended the query requirement until further notice.  The manual paper form check to previous employer is still required.

After Registration and Queries

The employer now has reporting responsibilities in the Clearinghouse.  Note that your Medical Review Officer (MRO) is now responsible for reporting all drug test positive results and all MRO determined refusals to test.   

The following violations are required to be reported by the employer of the C/TPA on behalf of the employer:

  • Breath alcohol test positives of 0.04 level or above
  • Any employer determined refusals on drug or alcohol testing.  See important information on refusals.
  • Actual Knowledge of drug or alcohol use while performing safety sensitive duties.  See more information on Actual Knowledge

Other Employer Clearinghouse Reporting Requirements 

Employers have two additional reporting requirements in the Clearinghouse.  One is the negative result of a return to duty test – drug and/or alcohol. The return to duty test is when an employee was removed from a safety sensitive position for a violation, referred to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and then released back to be eligible for performing safety sensitive duties.  Be aware that return to duty test in not when someone comes back from a leave absence. It is only for return after a violation of the DOT FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program. 

The second, other reporting requirement is when an employee completes his or her required follow-up testing.  This is an individual who removed from a safety sensitive position for a violation, referred to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and then released back to be eligible for performing safety sensitive duties.  The SAP required this individual to complete a series of follow up testing anywhere from 12 months to 60 months. These tests are not recorded in the Clearinghouse, just the completion of the last test is recorded.

One Last Clearinghouse Requirement for Employers

FMCSA regulated employers are required to distribute to the drivers a policy and educational materials on the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program.  These policies and educational materials must now be updated to include information about the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Policy and addendum materials on the FMCSA Clearinghouse are available to members of ClearinghouseServices.com.

Below is a sample of the information on the Clearinghouse that is required to be provided to your drivers:

Driver Information on the FMCSA Clearinghouse 

FMCSA regulation for the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is effective January 6, 2020. Motor carriers, designated service agents, medical review officers and substance abuse professionals will be required to submit a variety of drug and alcohol test-related records to the Clearinghouse. For more Clearinghouse information, visit: https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/  

Drivers need to be aware that drug and alcohol test information, as listed below, will be reported to the Clearinghouse:  

  1. A verified positive, adulterated, or substituted drug test result
  2. An alcohol confirmation test with a concentration of 0.04 or higher
  3. A refusal to submit to any test required by subpart C of this part
  4. An employer’s report of actual knowledge, as defined at §382.107:
    1. On duty alcohol use pursuant to §382.205
    2. Pre-duty alcohol use pursuant to §382.207
    3. Alcohol use following an accident pursuant to §382.209; and
    4. Controlled substance use pursuant to §382.213
  5. A substance abuse professional (SAP as defined in §40.3 of this title) report of the successful completion of the return-to-duty process
  6. A negative return-to-duty test; and
  7. An employer’s report of completion of follow-up testing

Drivers violating the DOT drug & alcohol testing regulations must register in the FMCSA Clearinghouse and must designate their Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for the return to duty process.

Effective January 6, 2020, all new applicants for FMCSA covered positions must register in the Clearinghouse and consent to a Query.  The query must come back confirming no outstanding drug or alcohol testing violations. This query process must be completed prior to the driver starting work in an FMCSA covered position.

Assistance is Available for Compliance with FMCSA Clearinghouse

Clearinghouse Services, Inc offers services to employers in the DOT drug and alcohol testing program. Guidance, consultation and training are available.  Different membership levels are available depending on whether you are an owner operator or depending on the number of drivers you have.