If you make a living as a driver and hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), it’s critical for you to understand your role, responsibilities and rights when it comes to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. We recommend learning about the new system sooner rather than later so that you’ll be prepared when it comes online in January 2020.

This is a second article in TSS’s series about the new FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. Check back in the coming months for additional blogs and important information that can help both employers and employees navigated this new system as efficiently as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact TSS with questions. We are here to help!

Starting in October 2019, drivers will be able to set up their user accounts for the Clearinghouse so that employers and agencies are able to access their record when the Clearinghouse opens in January. Keep in mind, that anyone who holds a CDL or learner’s permit and is covered under Parts 382 or 383 of the federal code, will be required to participate in the Clearinghouse.

Both current and prospective employers will be federally mandated to run checks for drug and alcohol violations via the Clearinghouse. Drivers will need to log into the system and provide electronic consent to those requesting information.

It is important that drivers provide consent in a timely manner so that drug and alcohol history information is available to the employer. Without driver consent, employers cannot allow the driver to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) or risk hefty fines.

NOTE: For the next three years, employers will be required to do both electronic AND manual record queries. Why? Because it will take three years to get all current events to populate the database. A violation that occurs in 2019 will not apear in the database, requiring a manual check with a driver’s former employers. It is anticipated that the database will be current in 2023 and manual checks will no longer be necessary.


How is driver history collected in the Clearinghouse?

The Employer, Medical Review Officer, Third Party Administrator and the Substance Abuse Professional are all responsible for entering information into the database. This includes positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals as well as completion of the required return-to-duty process.


What kind of access will drivers have?

Drivers will be able to access their driving record any time at no cost. Drivers should be aware that employers will do a pre-employment query (which they will provide consent for) and an annual query, which can be a limited query with general or blanket consent. Should that query show a violation, a full inquiry will be necessary.

Every time data is entered about the driver, FMSCA will send an electronic notification to the driver. This gives the driver the opportunity to remain knowledgeable about the information that is posted. To receive these notifications, driver information must be current and accurate.

Drivers will be able to go through a petition process to have any inaccuracies removed from the Clearinghouse.

The Clearinghouse is designed to protect a driver’s privacy and you will always be asked for consent when someone wants to review your record. Just remember, that without consent and your timely response, your employer will not be able to allow you to drive.

To ensure that drivers do not face hiring delays or problems being able to operate a CMV, it is critical to stay on top of developments and deadlines for the FMCSA Clearinghouse.

Important Dates

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October 2019 – Registration opens

January 6, 2020 – Entry begins (electronic & manual queries required)

January 6, 2023 – 3 years of data collected (electronic queries only)