The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse: What Drivers Should Know

As a professional truck driver, you’ve probably heard some buzz about the upcoming Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. But you might not totally be sure what it all means and how it will actually affect how you do your job.

It’s important to understand this new set of regulations since it affects your ability to get hired, so we’ve compiled a list of common questions drivers have asked and provided answers to ensure drivers enjoy a smooth ride during this industry-wide transition. Read on to learn the things you need to know to be prepared for this change.

What is the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is a database created by the FMCSA to house all drug & alcohol violations for commercial vehicle drivers. The database will hold information on commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders.

When will the Clearinghouse start to collect my data?

January 6, 2020 – any results from a test prior to this date will not be reported to the Clearinghouse.

Who will be able to access the Clearinghouse?

  • CDL drivers,
  • Employers – this includes motor carriers and other employers of drivers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), that require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP),
  • Consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs),
  • Medical review officers (MROs),
  • Substance abuse professionals (SAPs), and
  • Enforcement personnel.

Do I have to register?

Drivers must register and consent to a full query in the Clearinghouse to be hired on or after January 6, 2020 – otherwise it won’t be possible to get a job as a driver after this date. Drivers must also sign a limited query consent for their employers to run an annual limited query of the Clearinghouse.

What will I be able to do once I register?

  • View their own driver record electronically,
  • Provide electronic consent to release detailed drug and alcohol program violation information to a current or prospective employer, and
  • Identify a substance abuse professional so the SAP may enter specific information regarding the driver’s return-to-duty (RTD) activities.

To complete the actions above, drivers must be registered in the Clearinghouse. Drivers who register early will have their Clearinghouse accounts and contact preferences set up, allowing you to quickly respond to query requests from employers on or after January 6, 2020. Registration is available at https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/register .

How will I be notified if information is reported about me?

The Clearinghouse will notify the driver using the method indicated during the driver’s Clearinghouse registration—either mail or email—any time information about the driver is added, revised, or removed. If the driver has not yet registered for the Clearinghouse, these notifications will be sent by mail using the address associated with the driver’s CDL.

What do I need to do if information is reported about me?

If a limited query comes back indicating that there is information about a driver in the Clearinghouse, they’ll have to consent to a full query within 24 hours or they cannot continue to operate a CMV.

I’m an owner-operator, what do I have to do?

Registering before January 6, 2020 is the first step in ensuring you and your company will be ready when the Clearinghouse is operational. Once you are registered, you can take the following actions in the Clearinghouse prior to implementation:

  • Verify your information. If you currently have a USDOT Number, the Clearinghouse will pull your contact and company information from other FMCSA systems. Register early to verify this information is up-to-date.
  • Designate your C/TPA. As an owner operator, you are required to work with at least one consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA). You must designate your C/TPA(s) in the Clearinghouse before they can access the Clearinghouse on your behalf.
  • Invite Assistants. Send invitations to other employees who will access the Clearinghouse on your behalf, allowing them to register as part of your company.
  • 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). Learn about the pricing options and select the one that works best for your business needs.

Beginning January 6, 2020, you will need to coordinate with your C/TPA(s) to make sure the following requirements are met:

  • Queries are being conducted 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.
  • Drug and alcohol violations are being reported, including 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.
  • Negative RTD results are reported and the driver’s follow-up testing plan is successfully completed.
  • Owner-operators or C/TPAs are allowed to report violation information about other drivers employed by the owner-operator. If an owner-operator commits a drug and alcohol program violation, this information must be reported by the C/TPA by the close of the third business day after the employer or C/TPA is informed.
  • All current employees—including yourself—are being queried at least annually by owner-operators or C/TPAs, and consent is being given by drivers to run those queries.
  • You or your C/TPA(s) are conducting both electronic queries in the Clearinghouse and manual, offline inquiries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations until January 6, 2023.

For questions about the Clearinghouse, email clearinghouse@dot.gov or contact your company or TPA representative.

How will Tenstreet help me?

  1. If you have the Driver Pulse app, you’ll receive a push notice asking you to register for the Clearinghouse.
  2. Tenstreet will make it visible to your employer once you are registered (or will show where you are in the process).
  3. Tenstreet will offer integrated ordering and delivery to your employer for limited and full query needs.
  4. Driver Pulse users will receive a push notice letting them know they need to sign the query consent form, and will then be able to do so from within the app.
  5. Driver Pulse will deliver onboarding training documents for signature, again from within the app.

Regulation changes can be disruptive, but by preparing for what’s to come, you can ensure you don’t hit any rough patches and can keep gliding along the road toward great employment opportunities.

To download the Driver Pulse app, click here

For more information about the Clearinghouse, check out the Driver Brochure and Owner-Operator Brochure. 

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