First launched in January 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Clearinghouse is an online database that compiles records regarding drug and alcohol tests. As a trucking company or truck driver, it’s essential you learn about this database and why it’s so important for the industry. Keep reading as we share everything you need to know about the FMCSA Clearinghouse registration process.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse was launched in 2020 and compiles records about commercial driers who’ve either failed or refused to take a drug and alcohol test. Motor carriers use the Clearinghouse to complete checks annually on their drivers or ensure they are compliant before being employed by their company. The FMCSA is a subsector of the DOT, and this database is designed to help carriers understand whether a driver is safe and legally allowed to be employed by their company at the current time. If a driver fails or refuses to take a drug or alcohol test, this is then recorded in the Clearinghouse. All records are kept here for up to five years or until they complete the return-to-duty process.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse registration was created in order to minimize issues with the driver screening process. In the past, drivers who failed tests simply jumped to another company and passed their test to secure employment. The Clearinghouse provides a standardized database that any carrier can access in order to ensure their staff are compliant. This reduces potential risks to your company moving forward and will ensure your drivers are safe on the road. Carriers now find the pre-employment checks to be much simpler, and you have one location where you can find out everything you need to know before hiring new team members.
There are two types of queries that can be performed on the site – full queries and limited queries. Full queries are used for the pre-employment investigation and will offer you information about any violations they may have. Limited queries are the annual queries you’ll perform on your current team to check that they don’t have anything outstanding which would jeopardize their work. You’ll need to use both of these functions as a business owner, so it’s important to understand how the system works and when you need to use each type of query. If you feel uncertain about using the system, we can help you with registration and management and answer any concerns you may have when performing queries.
There are various organizations and individuals who need to register for the Clearinghouse. If you fall under any of these categories, make sure you register immediately if you aren’t already:
· Employers of Commercial Drivers – If you employ commercial drivers who hold a CDL, your organization needs to be registered on the Clearinghouse. You must also report any knowledge of violations that you have upon your registration.
· CDL Drivers – CDL drivers will need to register if they plan to switch jobs. This is because full queries that need to be conducted before your employment will require your full consent, whereas the annual queries just need paper consent. When you are changing jobs, register on the site with your CDL number and make sure your current information is correct to avoid any issues with your employment.
· Consortia/Third-party Administrators – Employers can designate a C/TPA that can conduct your queries and report any violations. If you are giving this work to someone else to complete, ensure they are fully registered on the FMCSA Clearinghouse.
· Medical Review Officers – Medical review officers are third-party individuals who are involved in the drug and alcohol testing of drivers. They are the ones who review the lab results, and so they should be registered in order to report any positive tests. They are also the ones who will log any refused tests on the site.
· Substance Abuse Professionals – Finally, substance abuse professionals are a key part of the testing process, and they can help with follow-up testing and evaluating driers. They are often part of the education and treatment that takes place after a failed test and can report updates about the RTD activities they are taking part in and have completed.
It’s simple to register on the Clearinghouse site, and you’ll need to just sign in to the login.gov site to begin the process. If you don’t already have an account on there, you’ll do this before completing the Clearinghouse registration. During the Clearinghouse registration process, you can then designate a C/TPA to your account and link them via your FMCSA Portal account. Since January 2020, FMCSA drug and alcohol clearinghouse registration and use have been mandatory for carriers, and this is when reports of failed tests were first added.
While the Clearinghouse registration itself is free, you’ll have to pay a fee to conduct a full or limited equerry. Employers will pay $1.25 per query, and your C/TPAs can’t do this on behalf of you unless you give them approval. You can purchase these in bulk per 1,000, but sadly there’s no discount on this cost. You may find this to be a worthwhile investment, though, as it will save time if you are regularly hiring new employees or performing annual checks on your current employees.
Clearinghouse registration is critical for both trucking companies and truck drivers to understand, and if you aren’t already registered, you will need to try and complete this process immediately. We understand that this process can often seem very overwhelming to carriers, so we are here to support you every step of the way. With the annual checks that are required for employed drivers, we encourage you to stay on top of this process to ensure your team is always in compliance and not risking your business.
If you're searching for FMCSA clearinghouse management and support, LabWorks has everything you need and will be happy to help your business this year.Back to Blogs