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FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Registration Begins Fall 2019 for 2020 Implementation

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FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Registration Begins Fall 2019 for 2020 Implementation

Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet

*** January 9th, 2020 Update, 8:00am PST : The Clearinghouse website is functional enough to get companies registered, however, there are other internal website issues that will not allow drivers to be registered, Queries to be performed, or positives/refusals to test to be added to the site. FMCSA announced that connecting the FMCSA Portal account to the Clearinghouse registration is NOT NEEDED at this time to have employers register to the Clearinghouse. Fleets that are not hiring drivers, or owner-operators, only have to worry about registering and eventually running the annual query (which can be done anytime in 2020). For fleets that are hiring in January, FMCSA recommends that for carriers do the normal DQ process of contacting “Inquiries of Past Employers” … the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). If you have never done this DQ File process, CleanFleet can help. Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).. ***

Step By Step Guide On Registering To The FMCSA CDL Clearinghouse

FMCSA recently launched their new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse website with information about the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse where CDL drivers and their employers will be required to use the Clearinghouse beginning January 6, 2020.

The purpose of the clearinghouse is to prevent CDL holders with positive drug and alcohol test results, refused required drug and alcohol tests, or who have not undergone return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process from job-hopping (moving to different states where the results do not follow them) – making it harder to hire these drivers and keeping the roads safer.

The clearinghouse database, coming 2020, will provide access to real-time information, “ensuring that drivers committing these violations complete the necessary steps before getting back behind the wheel, or performing any other safety-sensitive function.”

Clearinghouse Timeline

According to the new website, Fall 2019 is when registration begins for the clearinghouse where users can establish an account that will allow access to the clearinghouse once it becomes operational on January 6, 2020.

Based on the website launch, the database seems to be on track for the January 6, 2020 implementation when mandatory use of the Clearinghouse to report and query information about driver drug and alcohol program violations goes into effect.

Employers will be required to both query the Clearinghouse and request drug and alcohol testing histories from previous employers (going back 3 years) until January 6, 2023.  At that point, the clearinghouse query will replace the need for an employer to request histories from previous employers.

What Types of Drivers and Employers will the Clearinghouse Affect?

According to FMCSA’s latest clearinghouse FactSheet, it will affect “all CDL drivers who operate CMVs on public roads, and their employers and service agents.”

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including passenger carriers
  • School bus drivers
  • Construction equipment operators
  • Limousine drivers
  • Municipal vehicle drivers (e.g., waste management vehicles)
  • Federal and state agencies that employ drivers subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol use testing regulations (e.g., Department of Defense, public transit)

What Information Will Be Reported To The Clearinghouse Database?

  • A verified positive, adulterated, or substituted controlled substance test
  • Refusal to test (includes failure to appear)
  • A verified positive alcohol test above .04
  • DUI citation in a CMV
  • DUI conviction in a CMV
  • Actual knowledge of illicit alcohol or drug use
  • Negative return-to-duty
  • Completion of follow-up

Why Query the Database?

  • Pre-Employment Screening
    • Employers will be required to run detailed queries in order to make sure drivers they are planning to hire do not have outstanding positive test results
  • Annual Screening
    • Employers will also be required to run limited queries for current drivers at least once a year to determine whether information exists in the Clearinghouse about those employees
    • If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required

Related Article: Employers Of CDL Drivers Can Now Purchase Query Plans On The FMCSA Clearinghouse

What do I need to do now to prepare for Jan 6, 2020?

  • Employers
    • Must register authority with Clearinghouse, starting Fall 2019
    • Be sure CDL information (number and state of origin) is in driver file and easily accessible
    • Make changes to hiring information that includes consent from drivers to do an initial detailed query, and include the details for which an employer will report results to the Clearinghouse
    • Train DERs and safety officers on the required documentation for reporting “actual knowledge” of drugs or alcohol use while operating a CMV
  • Drivers
    • Be prepared to use your CDL Number when testing
    • Employers will require you to give consent whenever needed to run a full query
      • Refusing to give consent will result in not being able to perform safety sensitive functions with that employer

Visit to learn more.

At CleanFleet, we offer several bundle packages that provide special savings and extra services that can include:

  • Consortium/TPA Services
  • CDL Clearinghouse Services
  • DQ File Management
  • Driver and Company Managed Training
  • New Company Drug & Alcohol and other FMCSA Required Policies

Click here to view our Bundled Packages.

08 Mar, 19

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There are 7 comments. on "FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Registration Begins Fall 2019 for 2020 Implementation"


  • ***Pat Pickens*** says: posted on 17 Sep, 2019

    How will this impact those drivers and companies that domicile in a state where Marijuana is legal?

    • ***Brian Gray*** says: posted on 19 Sep, 2019

      The Clearinghouse is a database for positive and other drug tests. Regardless of state laws, FMCSA follows federal laws that still state marijuana (THC) is illegal and if in a positive drug test, will result in negative consequences for drivers. Driver’s shouldn’t be using marijuana and if the trend of drivers with positive drug tests due to marijuana (THC) in the system, the database will share these results quickly or when those drivers try to move to a new company.

  • ***Russell white*** says: posted on 29 Sep, 2019

    Where do cdl holders register at if they are not currently driving?

  • ***Tara*** says: posted on 31 Oct, 2019

    we are a small company in nevada. we have 9 CDL drivers. we are also “Intrastate Only” do these types of company have to register with the clearing house?

    • ***Brian Gray*** says: posted on 04 Nov, 2019

      According to the FMCSA, companies with CDL Drivers who operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (greater than 26,000 lbs, or with 16+ seatbelts, or any size vehicle used to transport hazardous materials that require a DOT placard) in interstate or intrastate commerce must register to the CDL FMCSA Clearinghouse.

  • ***Gerald McKenzie*** says: posted on 02 Nov, 2019

    I want to take a drug test I wasn’t able to urinate so they told me to take 3 hours and return to test it but before that they had me sign a paper that I would not leave the building I had a phone call and I forgot and I stepped outside the door one of the young ladies saw me outside the door and as I came back in I said I’m ready to urinate and she said to just see you outside and I said yes I just had a phone call and I didn’t want to disturb anyone so I just stepped outside the door I did not go anywhere so she deemed me as a refusal but I told her I did not refuse and that I wanted to take the test and they said because I stepped out the door I couldn’t take the test what is my next step the following day the company who told me to go sent me back to take the test I took the test and I passed that following Monday I were to get hired until the recruiter told me that safety couldn’t take me on because I refused which was not true but I refused according to clinic I need help what should I do

    • ***Brian Gray*** says: posted on 04 Nov, 2019

      Unfortunately, the collection site company must deem this as a refusal as you did leave the collection site (the rules can be annoying here – but it sounds like the company tried to make you aware of them). A good SAP would probably allow you to Return-to-Duty pretty quick, and assign the minimum of 6 follow-ups for the next 12 months in a follow-up program.


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