All employers of drivers who require a Commercial Driver’s License for their job, must conduct an annual electronic records check, or query, in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for each CDL driver they employ. This is called the Annual Query and is tracked on a rolling 12-month basis.

Instead of a Full Query, the Annual Query requires a Limited Query. A limited query allows the employer to check if there is any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol testing violations for their driver in the clearinghouse. The employer must obtain general consent from the employee to view the record. No details are provided. If the employer discovers a record for their driver, they must perform a full query, which provides further information about the violation and Return to Duty process. Employers are always mandated to run a Full Query before hiring a CDL driver.

Query Process

  1. Log in to the Clearinghouse and purchase a Query Plan. A query plan enables employers, and their C/TPAs, to conduct queries of driver Clearinghouse records. Select a query plan large enough to cover the number of CDL drivers you currently employ. You can purchase additional query plans, as needed. Query plans are non-refundable and cannot be purchased by the C/TPA.
  2. Visit the Query History page in the Clearinghouse to check if annual queries are due.
  3. Obtain general consent from drivers to view their record. Download a Limited Query Consent Form here. General consent forms are current for more than one year. You will not need a new consent form for those employees who provided their consent in 2021.  
  4. If an employee was hired within the last 12 months, their full pre-employment query can count as the annual query. Perform the next Annual Query 12 months after pre-employment.
  5. If no record is found for the a queried driver, no further action is required.
  6. If there is a violation record in the Clearinghouse for a driver, the employer is required to obtain electronic consent from the employee and perform a Full Query within 24 hours.
  7. If the full query is not conducted within 24 hours, the driver must be removed from safety-sensitive functions.

By staying on top of your queries and getting them completed in a timely manner, you can ensure that all drivers who you need out on the road driving for your business are allowed to get behind the wheel and that your company is compliant with federal regulations.