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DOT SAFETY ALERT: Have You Conducted Your Annual Queries in the Clearinghouse Yet?

Christina Anderson
November 2, 2020

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) final rule requires that employers conduct queries as follows:

A Full Query must be performed as part of any pre-employment driver investigation. The driver must be registered in the Clearinghouse in order to provide consent.

A Full Query or a Limited Query must be performed at least annually for every CDL driver currently employed. The purpose of the annual query is to check for any drug and alcohol testing violations that may have been reported that were not disclosed to the employer by the driver.

A Limited Query requires the employer to keep a signed paper consent form on file for each driver.  If the limited query determines that there is no violation information in the driver’s Clearinghouse record, the results will show “Driver Not Prohibited”.

However, if information related to a drug and alcohol program violation is present in the driver’s Clearinghouse record, a notice appears stating “Record(s) Found; Full Query Needed”. A notice that a result of “Record(s) Found” is not a notification that a queried driver is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive duties. However, a Full Query is needed to determine the driver’s eligibility status. The Full Query will require the electronic consent of the driver. The driver must be registered in the Clearinghouse in order to provide consent.  A driver must provide electronic consent to a Full Query within 24 hours or must be removed from safety-sensitive duties until consent is provided. The Full Query will determine if the driver is not prohibited or prohibited to perform FMCSA safety-sensitive duties.

What is the deadline for running Annual Queries on current drivers?

The FMCSA requires that drivers must be queried at least once within a 365-day period. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) final rule took effect January 6, 2020. Therefore, the first “deadline” is January 5, 2021. Going forward you can decide whether or not you want to conduct the queries all at once on a specific day, or throughout the year (e.g., on the driver’s anniversary date).

Employers are charged a fee for conducting queries in the Clearinghouse. All employers of CDL drivers must purchase a query plan in the Clearinghouse. This query plan enables employers, and their consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs), to conduct queries of driver Clearinghouse records.

Registered employers must log into their Clearinghouse accounts to purchase their query plan. Query plans may be purchased from the FMCSA Clearinghouse only.

FMCSA has updated the Clearinghouse Learning Center with additional resources to help you use the Clearinghouse including a Bulk Query Template File.

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