January 2023 marks the three-year anniversary of the FMCSA Clearinghouse, and with that, a change in verifying drug and alcohol violations of CDL drivers is coming. Beginning January 6, 2023, employers will be able to satisfy the requirement of investigating past drug and alcohol violations of drivers simply through a pre-employment Clearinghouse query.
A pre-employment query must be conducted before an employer may allow FMCSA covered drivers to perform safety sensitive duties. If a driver has not registered through the FMCSA Clearinghouse portal, the pending consent request information will be delivered via mail. The mailed document tells the driver to register. This method delays the process significantly. Employers should require the driver to register, log in and provide consent before scheduling a drug screening. This practice will ensure the driver is not prohibited from performing safety sensitive duties under FMCSA rules and regulations.
It’s a DOT requirement that employers investigate a prospective driver’s background to see if any drug or alcohol violations occurred within the three years prior to hiring them. Currently, this is done by conducting a full query through the FMCSA Clearinghouse as well as manually contacting previous employers to obtain information regarding previous drug and alcohol violations. As the FMCSA clearinghouse was launched on January 6, 2020, three years of driver violation history will then be available in most cases. This offers a great amount of time savings and convenience to employers and/or their third-party administrators.
If three years of violation history is not available through the FMCSA Clearinghouse, due to the driver being employed by a DOT agency other than the FMCSA, both a full query as well as manual inquiries to previous employers will need to be made.
Other FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements, such as the annual limited query requirement, will remain the same going into 2023. Annual queries must be conducted every 12 months or annually on a certain month based on the company’s policy. Drivers must provide written, signed general consent before employers can conduct limited queries.
For more information about the FMCSA Clearinghouse, including latest news and updates, visit the Clearinghouse website: https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/