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Clearinghouse Enforcement Has Begun: How To Prepare

04/14/2021 08:18

On January 6, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) Clearinghouse was implemented, bringing with it some significant changes for Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) drivers and their employers. The new set of rules will particularly affect processes related to drug and alcohol testing as well as background checks. Clearinghouse enforcement has begun—here’s how to prepare.

Make Sure You’re Registered With the Clearinghouse

First thing’s first—if you’re an employer of CDL drivers, you’re required to register with the Clearinghouse to remain compliant. CDL drivers are authorized to register with the Clearinghouse, but they are not required to register. They will, however, need to be registered to provide consent if an employer or potential employer needs to perform a query of the driver’s Clearinghouse record. Drivers may also wish to register if they want to see their records.

Know-How It Affects Drug and Alcohol Testing

In accordance with Clearinghouse requirements, employers should inform their employees of any information or violations related to drug and alcohol testing that must be reported to the Clearinghouse. Revise any written policies regarding drug and alcohol testing so the new expectations are clear for your employees.

Educate Your Drivers on Clearinghouse Processes

Even though your drivers are not, strictly speaking, required to register with the Clearinghouse, it’s a good idea to educate them on Clearinghouse rules and processes. Teach your employees how to register with the Clearinghouse and submit queries if they so desire. Employees may want to be registered to check the accuracy of their records from time to time. You’ll also need to explain the process of querying to your employees—if you ever need a query of an employee, you’ll need to get their consent in the Clearinghouse system.

Perform All Necessary Queries and Reports

Now that Clearinghouse rules are in effect, employers should know that they must perform required queries and reports to stay in compliance. Here are the three of which employers must be aware.

Pre-Employment Queries

Pre-employment queries must be performed prior to the hire of a new CDL driver. This query will be a full query that will give the employer a detailed record of a driver’s past drug and alcohol violations. Employers must obtain consent from drivers before performing a pre-employment query.

Annual Queries

Employers must also perform annual queries of their drivers. These queries can either be limited— meaning the employer will be able to see whether a driver has any new violations—or full queries. The employer must have consent from the employee for either of these. Employers must then keep a three-year record of these queries.

Reports of Drug and Alcohol Violations

If a driver violates the drug and alcohol policy, employers must report this violation to the Clearinghouse. The violation will be added to the driver’s record.

It’s highly important for drivers and employers to stay FMCSA compliant. For employers, this means realizing that Clearinghouse enforcement has begun and knowing how to prepare for compliance with the new rules and standards. Joining a DOT drug testing consortium such as Labworks USA will help you to remain compliant with Clearinghouse requirements. Save yourself the extra time and let us help.

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