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What is the New Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a new government-run program database that requires all motor carriers to submit drug and alcohol testing information and violations about their drivers. This helps to provide safer roadways and eliminate drivers with repeat violations from simply finding a new company to work for and continuing their unsafe habits. This database provides an accurate resource for identifying drivers who have violated U.S. Department of Transportation drug and alcohol programs and are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Clearinghouse will be used by employers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs) and State law enforcement personnel to monitor commercial driver's licenses (CDL) and commercial learner's permit (CLP) holders' drug and alcohol program violations. The Clearinghouse will maintain records for the previous 5 years in the regular database before moving them to an archived section. The same 5 year recording keeping rule applies to fleets.


Two Types of Clearinghouse Queries

Once a driver logs into Clearinghouse to provide consent, companies can access their previous drug and alcohol testing records and submit queries. Motor carriers must make two types of queries: full and limited. Full queries are done with pre-employment and allow companies to see any violation of the drug-testing regulations and their return-to-duty status once they have completed a treatment program in the last five years. A limited query must be done annually by the carrier for each of driver to ensure they are in the database and all records remain up to date.

During the first 3 years of implementation, employers will still be required to reach out to a potential new-hire's previous employers to obtain their drug testing information. It is also imperative that companies update their drug and alcohol company policies to include information regarding the Clearinghouse and inform employees of this new policy.


What is a Clearinghouse Query and How Much Does it Cost?

According to the Clearinghouse website, "A query is an electronic check in the Clearinghouse, conducted by an employer or their designated C/TPA [third part administrator], to determine if current or prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations." These queries help companies determine whether or not they should hire someone to drive for their company.


Clearinghouse queries, both full and limited, have a flat rate fee of $1.25 per query. There are plans that allow businesses to purchase query "bundles" and it is also important to note that purchased queries do not expire. When it comes to query plans and bundles, third-party agencies cannot buy them, the carrier must purchase these packages even though third-party agencies can enter information for companies.


This new database rolled out January 6, 2020 and required employers should now be using this system. For more information regarding the Clearinghouse and how to complete registration and enter queries, check out the Clearinghouse FAQs.


SMART Safety assists customers with Safety Program Management, including safety training. For more information on how SMART Safety can help your company with Safety Program Management and training, give us a call at (844) 820-8098, or check out our safety services.


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