Now in effect (since January 6, 2020); the new FMCSA Clearinghouse has rules and regulations that effect owner operators in the trucking industry. By owner operators, we are talking about an individual that employs himself or herself as a CDL driver – 1 truck, 1 driver equals the owner operator.
Owner operators must register in the Clearinghouse. If you are a self-employed CDL driver, do not register as a driver. You will need to register as an employer and, when prompted, identify yourself as an owner-operator (that is, an employer who employees himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation). View the registration instructions for employers. Designating a C/TPA is a requirement for owner-operators (employers who employ themselves as CDL drivers, typically a single-driver operation). Owner-operators must designate a C/TPA before they can conduct queries or report violation information in the Clearinghouse. Your C/TPA is typically your drug testing provider. A C/TPA must be registered in the Clearinghouse before you can designate them. If you do not see your C/TPA in your search results, contact them to confirm they have completed their Clearinghouse registration.
For owner operators – You must authorize at least one C/TPA to report violations and at least one C/TPA to report negative return-to-duty (RTD) information, including negative RTD test results and successful completion of RTD follow-up plans. You may authorize one C/TPA to fulfill both these functions. You may also authorize C/TPAs to conduct queries, however this action is not required to be performed by a C/TPA. A C/TPA is a consortium or third-party administrator typically again your drug testing provider.
Once owner operators register in the Clearinghouse, they need to add their CDL or CLP information to their profile. This will allow you as a user to view your Clearinghouse record and respond to consent requests. The instructions for this are on the employer registration instructions.
Owner operators that need assistance with registration or need a C/TPA to work in the Clearinghouse on their behalf can contact ClearinghouseServices.com for an owner operator membership.
First time owner operators will need in addition to a pre-employment negative drug test, a full query in the Clearinghouse. A full query determines if a current or prospective employee is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation—that is, a violation for which the driver has not completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process. The owner operator can run the full query in the Clearinghouse on their own or seek assistance from a C/TPA. Instructions for running a full query are available from the FMCSA Clearinghouse website.
The additional specific requirements for the owner operator in the Clearinghouse are as follows:
- All current employees—including yourself—must be queried at least annually. All queries require driver consent. Queries may be conducted by owner-operators or C/TPAs.
- The owner operator should select and purchase a query plan. You will need to have purchased a query plan before queries can be conducted in the Clearinghouse by you or your C/TPA(s). For the single driver owner operator, we recommend purchasing at least 2 queries annually.
- If an owner-operator commits a drug and alcohol program violation, this information must be reported by the C/TPA. This will include alcohol test results with a concentration of .04 or greater, refusals to take an alcohol or drug test, as well as actual knowledge of a violation
- Positive drug test results are reported by the Medical Review Officer (MRO)
- For the owner operator, the C/TPA must report negative Return to Duty test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan.
Remember, under the Clearinghouse final rule, an employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver must designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to comply with the employer’s Clearinghouse reporting requirements (§ 382.705(b)(6)).
Leased owner-operators will fall under the DOT authority of the fleet leasing the driver. The truck driver will need an account to provide consent to queries that fleets might conduct on the driver. A leased owner-operator is treated the same as a company driver. However, if you also operate under your own DOT authority you will need to register as an employer and withing that registration you would add your driver CDL information.ClearinghouseServices.com offers owner operators a membership that is perfect for these business owners to be in complete compliance with the Clearinghouse. The membership will include unlimited consultation, employer required queries and required reporting of violations.