Following is third in a series of emails sent to our FMCSA- regulated client regarding the Clearinghouse.

If you missed our previous messages about the Clearinghouse:

FMCSA Clearinghouse – New Requirements for Employers and CDL Drivers

What Employers Should Do Now

What is the Clearinghouse?

The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time access to important information about CDL Driver drug and alcohol program violations. – According to the FMCSA,

The Clearinghouse was approved in 2017 and becomes law on January 6, 2020.

There is a lot to learn and we consider it part of our job as a C/TPA (= Consortium/Third Party Administrator) to help.

We have summarized the highlights that apply to Employers and Drivers here:

Do you have to register?

If you employ FMCSA regulated drivers YES – Employer info (pdf)

What is a Query?

There are two types of Queries.

  • Full Query – Allows the Employer to see detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.
  • Limited Query – Allows an Employer to determine if an individual driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations, but does not release any specific violation information contained in the record.

When Must the Clearinghouse be Queried?

  • PreEmployment Query – Employers must not employ a driver subject to drug and alcohol testing to perform a safety‐sensitive function without first conducting a pre‐employment query — Must be a Full Query
  • Annual Query
    • Employees must be queried at least once within a 365‐day period based on their hire date, or another 12‐month period determined by the Employer, as long as the requirements of 701(b) are met.
    • Can be accomplished by a Limited or Full Query

Where do I get Queries?

  • You get to buy them from FMCSA. A C/TPA cannot buy them on your behalf.
  • Queries are $1.25 each.
  • You will need one for each CDL driver in your employ, plus one for each new hire. Better to overbuy, as they don’t expire.
  • As of the date of this writing, Queries are not yet available for purchase.

Let’s talk about Driver Consent.

Driver consent is required for Full Queries and Annual Limited Queries

  • PreEmployment– The Driver must provide a specific consent to the Employer prior to each Full Query. This consent must be provided electronically within the Clearinghouse.
  • Limited Annual Query-General consent required. Obtained outside the Clearinghouse and maybe a multi-year general consent from the driver for limited queries. A sample limited consent form is posted on the Clearinghouse website for Employers’ reference.
  • Full Annual Query – Electronic consent within Clearinghouse Consent is required prior to each search and must be received by the Employer within 24 hours. Failure to consent would require the driver to be removed from Safety Sensitive Functions.
  • Drivers are notified when an employer is conducting a query by the method they selected at registration. (email or postal mail). If the driver has not registered within the Clearinghouse, a notification will be by US Postal mail to the address on CDL. This is one reason it is advisable for all drivers to register.
  • Drivers can consent or refuse consent to queries on their Clearinghouse dashboard. Refusing may make them ineligible to drive.

382.703 (c) No employer may permit a driver to perform a safety-sensitive function if the driver refuses to grant the consent required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.

You may want to read that again.

  • Drivers will be able to see historical queries and which Employer made them.

You really should spend some time reading the full FAQ at the Clearinghouse website.

What To Do Now


Step One: Register
Select your C/TPA. If your C/TPA is NOT InOut Labs (and you would like it to be :-)), Click Here.

Step Two: Purchase Queries – How many? At a minimum add up the number of drivers you have plus how many you expect to hire in the next 12 months. Better to err on the high side. 

Step Three: Have every new and every existing driver to sign a consent form. You can use this one.

Step Four: Get your drivers to enroll. It’s not required at first, but your life will be much easier if they do. See Full Queries.

Big Idea: Have an enrollment event where you can educate, get consents signed, and set up computers to help them enroll.

Owner Operators

Step One: Register
Owner Operators are required to select a C/TPA. If your C/TPA is NOT InOut Labs (and you would like it to be :-)), Click Here.

Step Two: Purchase Queries – How many? You will need a minimum of one per year. We suggest you buy 6 so you have some “in the bank.” They never expire.

Watch for further emails from us  in the coming days and weeks regarding:

  • Queries – How to purchase them and how to use them.
  • Employer Clearinghouse reporting requirements.
  • How you can use InOut Labs to support your Clearinghouse responsibilities

Need a Consortium program to help you navigate the Clearinghouse? Look no further!