This spring, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled its new electronic database for commercial driver’s license holders, a tool that will revolutionize employers’ abilities to stay on top of drug and alcohol history background checks and ultimately help make our roads safer.


Clearinghouse Timeline

  • October 2019 – Registration for the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse opens for user account registration.
  • January 2020 – Mandatory reporting into the database will begin on January 6, 2020.
  • January 2023 – The clearinghouse will be fully functional. Everyone must continue to use the manual system that is currently employed in addition to the new database until 2023. This will ensure that three years of data can be collected, which is the number of years mandated by FMCSA in a drug and alcohol history search.


What does the new system mean for employers? A LOT.

Currently, drivers who fail or refuse a drug screen are required to report this to their next employer. Employers are required to perform the drug and alcohol history background checks on every driver they hire by contacting previous employers. The system is designed to stop a driver with a drug habit from jumping from one company to another, without going through the required Substance Abuse Professional process. But the current system is not always efficient. Employers can’t depend on previous employers to respond to information requests in a timely manner, making it possible for drivers to conceal violations and slowing things down when hiring decisions need to be made in a hurry.

The new FMCSA Clearinghouse will keep drug and alcohol program violation records in one place and will provide REAL-TIME access to violation information for employers all across the nation. Employers will have drug and alcohol history in minutes, instead of hoping that a former employer will get back to them quickly. Moreover, the clearinghouse will provide more insight and hold employers accountable for complying with drug and alcohol testing rules.


Who will use the Clearinghouse?

  • Drivers who hold CDL’s or CDL learner permits.
  • Employers of CDL drivers who operate CMV’s.
  • Consortia/Third Party Administrators (TPAs). (That’s TSS, Inc for most of you.)
  • Medical Review Officers
  • Substance Abuse Professionals
  • State Drivers Licensing Agencies

These are the folks who will have access to the clearinghouse to check on a driver’s drug and or alcohol history and/or report into it. There will be an extensive security and consent process to make sure that data is kept confidential and only those who have been approved will have access to information or be able to query the clearinghouse.

Employers, drivers and other users will certainly face a learning curve as they begin to make the switch to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Not to worry! TSS has spent the last six months studying the ins and outs of the new system and we’re here to help. Reach out to us if there’s anything that you are confused or uncertain about and we’ll work with you to answer all your questions.

In the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at aspects of the clearinghouse. Check back here for updates.