Owner Operators-FMCSA Clearinghouse Rules in Effect

The Clearinghouse is a secure, online database that will give employers and other authorized users real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

What is an Owner Operator?

An owner-operator is any employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver. For the sake of the Clearinghouse, this includes all owners that also drive, not just the typical one truck one driver operation. Owner-operators are subject to the requirements pertaining to employers as well as those pertaining to drivers.

What do Owner Operators do in the Clearinghouse?

There are some functions the owner operator can do themselves in the Clearinghouse and some functions are required to be performed by a Consortium/Third Part Administrator (C/TPA).  

Owner Operator Tasks

  1. Register in the Clearinghouse, owner operators register first as an employer not a driver.  Once registered the owner operator enters his or her driver information.
  2. Designate a C/TPA, as there are some tasks for the owner operator that must be performed by the C/TPA; the owner operator must designate a C/TPA.
  3. Select and purchase a query plan.  For the single unit owner operator we recommend a minimum query plan of 2 queries to begin with.  These are $1.25 each.

C/TPA Tasks

  1. If an owner-operator commits a drug and alcohol program violation, this information must be reported by the C/TPA.

Tasks that can be Performed by Either the Owner Operator or the C/TPA

  1. Report negative return to duty (RTD) test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan
  2. Violation information about other drivers employed by the owner operator
  3. Conduct queries to check if prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating CMVs, due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation.
  4. Perform at least annually a query on all drivers including the owner operator.
  5. Until January 6, 2023, conduct both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and manual, offline inquiries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations. 

For owner operators and all FMCSA regulated companies it is important to not assume a C/TPA will perform tasks on your behalf.  You must communicate with the C/TPA about what services you are hiring them to perform. There should be written agreement.

Reporting Drug Test Positive Results

All positive drug test results will be reported by the medical review officer (MRO) who reviewed and verified the result.  Medical review officers (MROs) will be required to report verified positive, adulterated, or substituted controlled substances test results, as well as refusals to take a drug test.  This must occur within two business days of the verification or determination. Within one business day of making any change to the results report, MRO must report that changed result.

Consent for Queries

Drivers will be required to log into the Clearinghouse and provide electronic consent before a current or prospective employer can conduct a full query of a driver’s Clearinghouse record.  The pre-employment query is always a full query. The annual required can be a limited query and consent can be on a paper form. If a limited query returns that records were found, a full query must be conducted on the driver within 24 hours, or the driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions.

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