The FMCSA requires employers of commercial truck and bus drivers to register for the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The deadline for registration was January 5, 2021. Non-compliance could lead to criminal and civil lawsuits of up to $5833 for every offense.

The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse regulation went into effect on January 6, 2020. The congressionally mandated Clearinghouse requires employers of CDL drivers to register for compliance and to “query” the Clearinghouse to check for drug and alcohol violations for its employees and potential employees.

The US Congress approved the drug and alcohol Clearinghouse database for employers of commercial drivers to eliminate weaknesses in the existing system. These weaknesses have allowed drug and alcohol program violators to slip through the cracks and continue driving commercial trucks and buses. 

Statistics indicate that thousands of employers of CDL drivers have yet to register with the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Any unregistered employer of CDLs who has hired a new driver since January 6, 2020 is in violation and can face fines if audited by FMCSA.

Pre-Employment Queries

In addition to the mandatory 3 Year History Check, the employer is required to conduct a Pre-Employment Full Query in the Clearinghouse AND receive a “Driver Not Prohibited” result.  In 2023, the 3 Year History Check will be completely replaced by the Clearinghouse process.

Since these Queries are all recorded, enforcement for DOT officials has become very easy.

Annual Limited Queries

Employers are also required to conduct a Limited Query on all commercial drivers every year. A limited query merely checks to see if any violations have been recorded in the Clearinghouse. If a record is present, the employer must immediately conduct a Full Query to get the details.


For a Full Query, an Employer must first get the commercial driver’s consent in the Clearinghouse. That means the driver needs to also be registered in the Clearinghouse. There is no other way to get consent for a Full Query, except electronically through the Clearinghouse.

Consent for Annual Limited Queries, however, is needed only once, if a General Consent for Annual Limited Query is used. This is a document signed by the employee and maintained in the employer’s files.

Other Employer Obligations

Employers are mandated to report violations of drug and alcohol programs by their CDL holders to the Clearinghouse database.  

  • Breath Alcohol Test positives
  • Refusals to Test
  • Actual Knowledge
  • Return To Duty test results
  • Completion of Follow Up testing

These are the responsibility of the Employer to report. If you don’t know what a Refusal is or what Actual Knowledge is, you better learn.

How InOut Labs Helps its Clients with Clearinghouse regulation

Understanding and complying with the Clearinghouse requirements is a challenge for many fleets and owner-operators. But you are still required by the law to comply with the Clearinghouse requirements. That’s where InOut Labs has your back. 

We’re committed to helping our clients understand the FMCSA Clearinghouse regulation.  If you want to manage the Clearinghouse yourself, we can tell you how. Or we can manage many of the tasks required by the Clearinghouse on your behalf:  conducting full and limited queries, reporting violations, return to duty and follow up completion reports.

InOut Labs is a respected drug testing provider with extensive knowledge and experience. We are helping many employers of CDL drivers navigate the FMCSA Clearinghouse requirements. Description and pricing here:

Be sure to register for the Clearinghouse . Then let InOut Labs take care of the rest. Read more about our experience and expertise.

Check out our FMCSA ClearingHouse resource page for more details and our fees breakdown for providing Clearinghouse support.

Want more information? Send us a message or visit our office


Check out Tim discussing 6 FMCSA Drug Testing Requirements