November 10, 2021
In order to avoid hefty fines and stay in compliance, you need to stay informed on the DOT Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse going into 2022. We’ll help you navigate the murky waters of this Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulation.
The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is an online database that provides employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel with real-time information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. The goal is to reduce accidents that result from intoxicated driving.
While we often preach that compliance does not equal safety, rules and regulations that prevent driving under the influence are extremely important. Fleet owners only stand to succeed as a company if they strictly enforce them. That, in part, is what the drug and alcohol Clearinghouse intends to do - make it easy for employers to track and enforce violations.
Of course, as beneficial as the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse can be, it may prove to be burdensome. Rules and regulations like this can penalize companies if they don’t follow them exactly by the books.
So, let’s cover four things you need to know to stay in compliance and avoid fines.
For some people/companies, yes it is. If you have commercial motor vehicles or a commercial driver’s license, you may be required to register.
Owner-operators and companies covered by the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program are required to comply and register with the Clearinghouse. In fact, you were required to register by January 6th, 2021.
Take a wild guess - you get fined.
Employers of CDL drivers who don’t register could face fines up to $2,500 per offense.
Employers must register themselves for the Clearinghouse. You cannot outsource this to a third party.
Luckily, registering is easy. Click this link on the federal government site and follow the prompts.
Additionally, drivers (other than owner-operators) are not required to register. However, they are more than welcome to, and it has many benefits for drivers and companies. When drivers register, they can log in and access their own records and information. They of course cannot alter them.
Employers can also manage consent forms via the Clearinghouse, which drivers need to access. We’ll cover that more below.
The Clearinghouse consent form is how an employer legally views a driver’s information in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This includes access to information on driver drug and alcohol violations.
There are two different types of content needed depending on the situation: limited queries and full queries.
According to the FMCSA, “a limited query allows an employer to determine if an individual driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations, but does not release any specific violation information contained in the driver’s Clearinghouse record."
On the other hand, “a full query allows the employer to see detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.”
Limited query consent forms are done outside of the Clearinghouse database. You can find a sample form here.
Full query consent forms are done within the Clearinghouse. Employers log in and send the consent request form to drivers electronically.
Drivers will give you consent for full queries by logging into the Clearinghouse under their username and password.
Those are four common questions asked about the Clearinghouse, but there is much more to know.
You can find important and helpful information from the FMCSA at this link.
Additionally, you can download our comprehensive guide for free by clicking this link.
Remember: not only will compliance help you avoid costly fines, but it also makes it easier to only put safe drivers behind the wheel.
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