Does your Company have CDL Drivers? 10 Steps to get ready for Clearinghouse

If your company employs CDL Drivers that are regulated by the Department of Transportation, then get ready to meet the new compliance responsibilities under the FMCSA Clearinghouse that begins on January 6, 2020. The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. Here is a short summary of your Clearinghouse action items so you can create a Clearinghouse Procedure.

  1. Starting on January 6, 2020, all newly hired CDL drivers must be screened in the FMCSA Clearinghouse consistent with the new regulations.  The Clearinghouse rules do not change the existing DOT drug and alcohol testing requirements – it just creates an online database for testing violations and return to work information.
  2. Register for Clearinghouse account at  https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Register  If you have an FMCSA portal account, link it with your Clearinghouse account.
  3. Purchase a “query plan” from the website to pre-pay for queries.
  4. Incorporate new rules into company policy/handbook/forms.  Add a reference to the Clearinghouse process to your DOT drug testing policy and Employee Handbook.  Create a limited query consent form and hand receipt form (discussed below).
  5. Obtain a limited query consent form from existing CDL drivers.  A sample template is available on the FMCSA website.  The limited query consent form will remain in effect until revoked.  For full queries (pre-employment and if a limited query returns data on a driver) must be signed within the Clearinghouse portal account of the driver.  Your drivers must register for their own portal access in order to authorize full queries.  All new hires will need an account.
  6. Assist your existing drivers with setting up their own Clearinghouse accounts (printable guidance on the FMCSA website about the Clearinghouse).
  7. On and after January 6, 2020, perform a full query on all new CDL drivers being hired.  In addition, will continue to use the existing form to verify previous DOT regulated employment through January 2023.
  8. Annually, the company must complete a limited query for existing CDL drivers.  If a limited query returns information, HR will complete a full query within 24 hours, or remove the employee from all safety-sensitive functions, until a full query is completed.
  9. Your Company will begin adding alcohol and drug violations in the Clearinghouse if reported to you after January 6, 2020.  The following violations and Return to Work Duty events that must be reported in Clearinghouse are:
    1. positive alcohol test;
    2. refusal to submit;
    3. actual knowledge (see rules);
    4. negative Return to Work (RTD) test result;
    5. the date a driver successfully completes all follow-up tests as ordered by an SAP.
  10.  In the Clearinghouse system, Driver violations will be reported and tracked using their state CDL number, not their social security number.  There is specific information that must be reported for each violation event, including the supporting evidence related to the violation.  When a reportable event occurs, the report of violation must be reported in the Clearinghouse by the close of the 3rd business day following the date employer obtained knowledge.  After a violation is reported in the Clearinghouse, the employer shall also upload a certificate of service (such as hand receipt form)  showing that your company provided the employee with a copy of all the information reported to the Clearinghouse.
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