The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) is a secure online database that enables employers, FMCSA, state law enforcement agencies, and driver licensing agencies to access real-time information about driver drug and alcohol violations. This is done to improve road safety in the US.

The FMCSA Clearinghouse was launched on Jan. 6, 2020, and. as of September, 2021, 2,487,490 CDL holders and organizations have registered for the online database. Furthermore, employers have queried a total of 3,518,567 CDL holders and reported 90,739 violations since the program’s launch, according to the most recent Clearinghouse monthly report.

Though the numbers fully back the success of the Clearinghouse, there are still many misconceptions surrounding the program’s requirements. One of the common misunderstandings is that the Clearinghouse is optional. The truth is that the Clearinghouse is not optional. Let’s explain why and how!

The Clearinghouse is Mandatory

It’s absolutely mandatory for all carriers that operate within the US to conduct queries with FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH). And ALL employers covered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) must register with the DACH. Otherwise, they may face civil or criminal penalties.


Drivers themselves are not required to register with DACH. But if an employer runs a pre-employment query on them (which is mandatory when hiring), the driver will need to be registered to provide consent. Also, drivers who have had violations reported on them are required to register. Those with violations need to designate a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) to help them with the Return To Duty Process

Drivers who have no violations and who are not applying for a job with a new employer do not need to register.

All employers, however, must register themselves. They cannot outsource this process to a Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA), though many C/TPAs will guide them through the process. Once registered, employers may assign a registered C/TPA to perform required tasks, such as conducting queries, reporting completion of a follow-up program, and reporting violations. 

Are you an employer? You’ll have to query the Clearinghouse before hiring a driver

If you’re an employer, you’ll have to query Clearinghouse before hiring a driver to make sure they don’t have any alcohol or drug violations and that they aren’t listed as Prohibited from driving. The pre-employment query is just as mandatory as a pre-employment drug test. 

Suppose a prospective employee is listed as Prohibited? In that case, the driver is not permitted behind the wheel until his/her status is changed to Not Prohibited. That happens only by completing the Return To Duty  process.

Employers are also required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver employed. This is called the Annyual Limited Query. The Annual Limited Query ensures no current violations list them as Prohibited. If an employed driver’s status turns up as Prohibited, s/he must immediately be removed from operating a CMV. If you need a C/TPA to perform your Clearinghouse tasks for you, you can choose InOut Labs as your C/TPA.

An employer is subject to the Clearinghouse regulations when they or their employees hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in any state. A CMV is a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 lbs or more, is designed to carry 16 or more people (including the driver) or if the vehicle is required to be placarded for hazardous materials.

This policy has been in effect since January 2020. And if you aren’t registered with Clearinghouse already, you can visit to register. Your registration will generally be valid for five years.

If you need help, InOut Labs offers Clearinghouse Support nationwide.