F.A.Q. | Clearinghouse Services

F.A.Q.

A: No, nothing in the drug & alcohol testing regulations 49 CFR Part 40 will change as a result of the Clearinghouse.

A: No, not all drivers are required to register in the Clearinghouse, but officials are encouraging all to do so.  Effective January 6, 2020 all applicants for DOT FMCSA covered driver positions will for sure be required to register.  Drivers must register if they want to view all information about them in the system—any time, free of charge. Drivers must register to give consent to a full query that an employer might be requesting, this may occur after a limited query shows there is information in the Clearinghouse.

A:

One of the main purposes of the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is to ensure that drivers who commit a drug or alcohol violation while working for another employer, or who attempt to find work with another employer; do not perform safety-sensitive functions until completing the return-to-duty process.  Drug and alcohol violation records maintained in the Clearinghouse will “follow” the driver regardless of how many times he or she changes employers, seeks employment or applies for a CDL in a different State.

A: FMCSA regulation part 382 provides that an employer may not allow a covered employee to perform safety-sensitive functions when the employer has actual knowledge that a driver has engaged in on-duty or pre-duty alcohol use, used alcohol prior to post-accident testing, or used a controlled substance. An employer may not use a driver under these circumstances until the driver has completed the return-to-duty process prescribed in 49 CFR part 40, subpart O. The employer may elect to terminate employment based on actual knowledge.

A: No, the Clearinghouse does not fall under the HIPAA requirements. Clearinghouse users do not fall into any of the HIPAA categories called “covered entities.” DOT requires the use or disclosure of DOT drug & alcohol testing information, its release is mandated by Federal law, and would not violate the requirements of HIPAA.

A: Part 382.601 requires employers to promulgate a policy on the misuse of alcohol and use of controlled substances. Employers shall provide educational materials that explain the requirements of the drug and alcohol testing regulations and the employer’s policies and procedures with respect to meeting the requirements – 49 CFR Part 40 and 40 CFR Part 382. The Clearinghouse rule now requires employers, as a part of their educational materials, to notify drivers that drug, and alcohol test information will be reported to the Clearinghouse.

A: This occurs only when a driver is coming out of the SAP process and upon the result of the return to duty drug test or alcohol test, the employer will be required to report up to the Clearinghouse the negative result.  A positive would of course also be reported as all positive results are reported.

A: In late August 2019, FMCSA announced a fee structure for queries to the Clearinghouse to include same fee for both full query and limited query.  Query charges will be a flat per query rate ($1.25), for limited and full queries.  Bundled options will be available to purchase batches of queries.  FMCSA states that only employers can purchase queries and that C/TPAs cannot purchase queries on behalf of employers.  FMCSA is recommending that employers purchase a bundle large enough to cover the amount of drivers that are currently employed.  All information regarding query fees are available from the FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse website.

A: When information on a driver is added, revised, or removed, the driver will be notified. If an e-mail is on file for the driver the notification will be by e-mail otherwise it will be by US mail to the address on driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL).

A: Employers, drivers and service agents will be required to register in the Clearinghouse. This includes Medical Review Officers (MRO’s), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP’s) and Consortia/Third Party Administrators (C/TPA). Law enforcement and state driver’s license agencies will also register and have authorized use in the clearinghouse.

A: The Clearinghouse will be available to State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) for queries to be performed before completing licensing transactions, such as the issuance, renewal, transfer, and upgrade of a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

A: Drivers will be able to login and see what information, if any, has been reported on them. There will be a process for drivers to challenge the accuracy of the information reported. Drivers will not be allowed to challenge the actual outcome or validity of test results or refusals which have already been vetted and reported by an MRO or an employer.

A: Drivers with CDL’s operating on US public roads and employers of these drivers will be required to comply with the Clearinghouse rules. Canadian and Mexican employers operating in the USA subject to the drug & alcohol testing regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will be required to report violations and submit queries to determine driver violations.

A: Not necessarily, after January 6, 2019 all applicants for FMCSA driving positions should register. Any driver with a violation must register. For any full query the employer makes in the Clearinghouse, the driver must be registered in order to provide consent for the query. Drivers looking to view their information in the Clearinghouse must also be registered.

A: Yes, TPA’s can be designated by employers to operate in the Clearinghouse and perform reporting and queries on the employer’s behalf. Owners operators will be required to utilize a C/TPA to work on their behalf in the Clearinghouse.

A: Yes, owner operator violations must be reported by a C/TPA. Owner Operators, just like all FMCSA regulated employers, are subject to the requirements of the Clearinghouse.

A: Primarily the data stored will be employee violations of refusals to test and positive drug and alcohol test results. Additionally, employer’s actual knowledge of illegal drug use or alcohol use on the job and also SAP reports of the successful completion of the return-to-duty process will be maintained and stored in the Clearinghouse.

A: No, only violations occurring on January 6, 2020 or after will be included in the Clearinghouse.

A: No, only FMCSA DOT drug & alcohol testing violations will be reported to the Clearinghouse.

A: No, only FMCSA DOT drug & alcohol testing violations will be reported and stored in the Clearinghouse.

A: Drivers will need to consent in the Clearinghouse for the release of violation information. Security protocols will be in place for access to the Clearinghouse database. Users will have credentials to log in and the system will require completion of a user verification process to ensure the proper person is using those credentials. This should be a very secure system.

A: For over 20 years, SSN # or Employer ID have been used to identify a driver for a drug or alcohol test. This all changes now to CDL number and State of issue. This will present a challenge as currently the custody and control form for drug testing and the breath alcohol testing form have a designated field to capture the SSN # or Employer ID. Currently there is no field to capture the State of issue and driver’s license number.

A: The Clearinghouse is a national database to keep track of driver violations of the FMCSA drug & alcohol testing program. These violations include positive drug tests, positive alcohol tests, refusals to test and actual knowledge of drug or alcohol use. When hiring new drivers, employers will be required to query the database to determine if the driver has had a previous violation and if so, has the driver satisfied the DOT required return to duty process with the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).

A: The medical review officers (MRO) will report positive drug test results and MRO determined refusals to test. The employer will report positive alcohol tests, employer determined refusals and employer actual knowledge of drug or alcohol use on the job. The Substance Abuse Professional will report their determination that the driver has demonstrated successful compliance with education and treatment requirement and is eligible for return-to-duty (RTD) testing.

A: Covered drivers in the DOT FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program include those drivers with a CDL operating on public roads and operating a truck or bus under the following conditions: vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating/gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight rating/gross combination weight of 26,001 or more lbs., or vehicle designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or vehicle of any size that is used to transport hazardous materials which require the vehicle to be placarded

A: Two main functions for employers, one is to report violations such as employer determined refusals, positive alcohol test results and actual knowledge of drug or alcohol use as defined in 49 CFR Part 382.107. The other function is the query of drivers first upon initial employment and second querying all drivers once per year.

A: FMCSA Clearinghouse Services was formed to help employers navigate the Clearinghouse. Assistance is available for consultation, training, reporting, queries and speaking engagements to industry groups and associations. Take a look at our Clearinghouse Services available to all FMCSA regulated employers including owner operators.

A: No, the Clearinghouse does not fall under the HIPAA requirements. Clearinghouse users do not fall into any of the HIPAA categories called “covered entities.” DOT requires the use or disclosure of DOT drug & alcohol testing information, its release is mandated by Federal law, and would not violate the requirements of HIPAA.

A: The MRO will report all drug test positives to the Clearinghouse, including for the owner operator.

A: It is the employer’s responsibility to report for their employees and if the employer granted reporting capabilities to the C/TPA, then the C/TPA may report the positive test. If the positive test is for the owner-operator, then the designated C/TPA must report the positive test to the Clearinghouse. for this to happen the employer including owner operator must have registered into the Clearinghouse and must designate the C/TPA to report on their behalf.

A: FMCSA officials have answered this question: “The C/TPA should encourage the owner-operator to designate them in the Clearinghouse as their designated C/TPA. Also, the C/TPA may reach out to FMCSA so that we may assist.”

A: Per FMCSA officials – ‘Per 382.705(c), Any employer may designate a C/TPA to perform the employer requirements in paragraph (b) of this section. Regardless of whether it uses a C/TPA to perform its requirements, the employer retains ultimate responsibility for compliance with this section. Exception: An employer does not retain responsibility where the C/TPA is designated to comply with employer requirements as described in paragraph (b)(6) of this section.”

More clarification on this question – Section (b)(6) states: An employer who employs himself/herself as a driver must designate a C/TPA to comply with the employer requirements in paragraph (b) of this section related to his or her own alcohol and controlled substances use.

A: Per FMCSA officials – “No. The owner-operator may conduct their own queries.”

A: The following information must be provided when the MRO is reporting the Clearinghouse:  

  • Reason for the test; 
  • Federal Drug Testing Chain of Custody Form (CCF) specimen ID number; 
  • Driver’s name, date of birth, and commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and State of issuance; 
  • Employer’s name, address, and USDOT Number, if applicable; 
  • Date of the test and date of the verified result; 
  • Test result; 
  • In the case of an adulterated specimen, the adulterant/reason must also be provided. 

A:  Per § 382.705(b)(5), when reporting actual knowledge, employers must report the following:

  • Driver’s name, date of birth, commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and State of issuance;
  • Employer name, address, and USDOT number, if applicable;
  • Date the employer obtained actual knowledge of the violation;
  • Witnesses to the violation, if any, including contact information;
  • Description of the violation;
  • Evidence supporting each fact alleged in the description of the violation, which may include, but is not limited to, affidavits, photographs, video or audio recordings, employee statements (other than admissions pursuant to § 382.121), correspondence, or other documentation; and
  • A certificate of service or other evidence showing that the employer provided the employee with all information reported.

A: For alcohol concentration of 0.04 or above, employers must report to the Clearinghouse the following:

  • Reason for test
  • Driver’s name, date of birth, commercial driver’s license (CDL) number and State of issuance;
  • Employer name, address, and USDOT number, if applicable;
  • Date of test
  • Test result

A: Yes, the employer can change it. They can add or remove permissions and/or they can revoke the C/TPA designation entirely.

A: No, a C/TPA is not required to perform Clearinghouse services for employers including owner operators. A C/TPA not wanting to perform Clearinghouse services should not register in the FMCSA Clearinghouse. If the C/TPA is registered in the Clearinghouse and the employer designates this C/TPA for reporting and queries; the C/TPA has the option of accepting or not accepting this designation.