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Part 2 Webinar Q&A: "30 Days In – Status of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse"

Did you have a chance to attend the webinar, “30 Days In – Status of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse”? We received more questions than we had time to answer in the allotted time frame, so our presenter for the webinar, Dave Osiecki of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, answered them below in this Q&A-style blog post. If you weren’t able to join the live webinar, don’t worry – you can watch it on-demand anytime!

Note: Part 1 of the Q&A was posted on Thursday, February 13th and is available here

Section 6: Reporting to the Clearinghouse

Question: Does Invalid drug tests need to be entered in Clearinghouse?

Answer: MROs should only enter verified positive test results. 

Question: We have come across DOT employment verifications where a driver had a positive drug or alcohol test reported by that previous employer after 1/6/2020 but the Clearinghouse does not show the driver as prohibited. Once calling the previous employer to clarify the positive and asked about the result being reported to the Clearinghouse the previous employer was clueless as to the Clearinghouse and reporting to the Clearinghouse as well as the MRO. Is there any penalty for employers and or MRO's for not reporting positive test results or refusals?

Answer: Positive tests results that occurred prior to January 6, 2020 should not be uploaded into the Clearinghouse. Drivers that failed a test prior to January 6, 2020 are still prohibited from operating a CMV requiring a CDL until they have completed the SAP evaluation and are cleared to return to duty. See FMCSA’s FAQ on the topic: https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQ/SearchFAQs?searchWord=driver%E2%80%99s%20violation%20occurred%20prior%20to%20January%206,%202020, and here: https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQ/SearchFAQs?searchWord=No.%20The%20Clearinghouse%20serves%20as%20a%20repository

Question: My company used a TPA who was to report a DOT violation on our behalf. We are not able to view the violation as reported however, they claim the report was made. How can my company check this to ensure we are in compliance?

Answer: The best way to confirm a violation was reported is to request a query. 

Question: When a previous employer reports a positive result on an applicant, we have to report that as having Actual Knowledge. What documentation is required when we have to proceed through the violation reporting process? Specifically on the "Driver provided documentation" page?

Answer: If the violation occurred prior to January 6, 2020, it should not be reported to the Clearinghouse. Details on information that must be reported when reporting actual knowledge are found at 49 CFR 382.705(b)(5).

Question: Our MRO is also our TPA. Do they need to enter violations twice? Once as the MRO and a second time as the employer since they are our TPA?

Answer: No, each party has distinct responsibilities for the types of violations that are reported and violations should not be reported twice. See the second question at this link for which test results the employer (or their TPA) should report. https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQ/SearchFAQs?searchWord=Per%20%C2%A7%20382.705(b),%20employers%20must%20report%20the%20following%20information%20to%20the%20Clearinghouse

Question: If a previous employer reports a driver as testing positive or a refusal to test and that driver is not prohibited in the Clearinghouse are we as the potentially new employer required to report that under actual knowledge to the Clearinghouse? Or is that solely the employer who had the positive or refusal, responsibility?

Answer: If you learn of a violation that occurred after January 6, 2020, by a CDL driver regulated by FMCSA, from a previous employer, you should upload it as actual knowledge. If the violation occurred prior to January 6, 2020, it should not be uploaded but the driver is still required to complete the SAP evaluation and return-to-duty processes.

Question: Who all reports violations?

Answer: Reporting requirements are found at 49 CFR Part 382.705

Section 7: Clearinghouse Customer Service

Question: We are having a problem getting a D&A on one of our drivers, it tells us to contact the state which we have done, who says that nothing is wrong – contact FMCSA which we have done and we get nothing but an automated response. Who do we need to contact? And how can we get this straightened out?

Answer: It sounds like there is a CDL verification issue. Please be sure that you’re entering the CDL number without spaces or special characters and exactly the same as the driver entered it (with or without leading zeros). 

Question: During the time that the system was having issue I submitted a Pre-employment full query. I tried for several days to get it to go through and I was charged for 3 queries for the same driver. I cannot get anyone on the phone, a call back, or an answer to my emails. Any suggestions?

Answer: Unfortunately, your best bet is to email FMCSA at Clearinghouse@dot.gov. They are currently working through a backlog of requests. 

Question: I've heard some MC's mention their FMCSA Portal account was locked and had to be unlocked by the FMCSA before Registering for the Clearinghouse...what is the status of FMCSA unlocking those accounts?

Answer: The FMCSA Portal customer service team is currently working through a backlog of requests. They will be able to unlock accounts. The portal help page is located here: https://ask.fmcsa.dot.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/572. In the meantime, you may register without linking your portal account. See question 5 for instructions. 

Question: We still have a lot of issues with connecting with the FMCSA Portal. You only have 3 techs that work on the FMCSA Portal Account. Do you guys expect the companies to shut down if the FMCSA cannot fix the FMCSA Portal Accounts?

Answer: You may register without linking your portal account, for now.

Section 8: Various

Question: Clearinghouse training and education requirements for current drivers on a fleet ... what are they?

Answer: The Clearinghouse final rule did not impose any new supervisor and training requirements. It does require your Drug & Alcohol Policy be updated. See 49 CFR Part 382.601(b)(12). Also, drivers should be made aware of the new notification requirement under 49 CFR Part 382.415

Question: What are the plans for API access for submitting queries & MRO results?

Answer: Answered during webinar. FMCSA is aware of the request and may be adding it to their enhancement roadmap for future development. 

Question: For drivers that were hired prior to January 6th and Prior Drug and Alcohol verifications were sent and received from prior employers is there any requirement to query the Clearinghouse for those drivers?

Answer: No - it is ONLY for drivers hired ON or AFTER January 6, 2020

Question: Where are the instructions for running a query on a driver?

Answer: https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Learn. Click on the "employer" under "how will you use the Clearinghouse.

Question: Have pulled MVR CDLIS driver confirmed LIC with DMV – he is still not able to validate on your system. Have left many messages with none returned – how do we get help when things aren't working?

Answer: While not ideal, your best bet is to email FMCSA at Clearinghouse@dot.gov

Question: If we run a driver through the Clearinghouse, do we still need to fax traditional D&A forms to their previous employers?

Answer: Yes, until January 6, 2023

Question: Do our current employees need to register with the Clearinghouse?

Answer: They do not - only if you perform a limited query and see that there is information on the driver in the Clearinghouse. If that's the case, they'll need to register so they can give you consent to perform a full query (which will allow you to see the data in the Clearinghouse)

Question: Is the employer administer supposed to receive an email once a driver gives consent for a query?

Answer: This is the way the system is designed but we have heard reports of problems. FMCSA suggests verifying that the email the Administrator used to register is the same one you wish to receive notifications through. 

Question: Aside from the Limited Query Consent Form, what DACH info is required to be in the DQ file at this point?

Answer: Record keeping requirements for the Clearinghouse can be found at 49 CFR Part 382.701(e) and 382.703(a)

Question: Consent can only be online?

Answer: Full Query consent can ONLY be done online through the FMCSA's Clearinghouse. Limited query consent can be granted using a paper or electronic consent form provided by the employer to the driver.

Question: Is there a number of cdl drivers my company must have to use the Clearinghouse?

Answer: No, there is no minimum number of drivers. If your company uses any CDL drivers who operate a CMV for which a CDL is required, you must use the Clearinghouse. 

Question: Where can we find what disclosures we need to add to new hire paperwork to cover the Clearinghouse queries?

Answer: You must add a limited query consent form to your new hire paperwork. Here’s a link to a sample form. https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Resource/Index/Sample-Limited-Consent-Form You must also add new language to your drug and alcohol policy. Details are found at 49 CFR Part 382.601(b)(12).

Question: Is there a way to change the telephone number for the authentication?

Answer: Please contact login.gov for questions on authentication. https://www.login.gov/help/

Question: If we do not have a DOT number, do we still use the Clearinghouse?

Answer: It depends. If you employ CDL drivers who operate a vehicle that requires a CDL, who is regulated by the FMCSRs (49 CFR Part 382), then you must use the Clearinghouse.

Question: I am trying to get into Clearinghouse to change information. How do I do this? It said I had to sign up as a TPA and not an Employer.

Answer: Our best suggestion is to contact FMCSA at Clearinghouse@dot.gov 

Question: If you have a driver that you are having trouble getting the request completed because it says error or in process, is the driver qualified to drive while we continue to resolve the issue?

Answer: No, you may not allow a driver to perform any safety sensitive functions until you obtain and review the full query. 

Question: Can you please verify the process if you can get your DOT pin number?

Answer: Please contact the FMCSA Portal Help Desk. https://ask.fmcsa.dot.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/572

Question: Employer is unable to link our clinic as the TPA/Consortium. We have some linked, but others are having issues.

Answer: Your best bet is to contact FMCSA at Clearinghouse@dot.gov

Question: Where can we find the MC Policy language that we need to add to our handbook?

Answer: It can be found at 49 CFR Part 382.601(b)(12). 

Question: Do we still need to run our own MVRs per DOT or will the Clearinghouse cover it?

Answer: Yes. The annual MVR check is separate and distinct from the Clearinghouse requirements as they each contain very different information (MVRs do not contain Drug & Alcohol History information. 

Question: Can we run batches of drivers or do we have to run individual names?

Answer: You may request information in batches. See FMCSA’s FAQs on bulk queries. https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQ/SearchFAQs?searchWord=bulk

Question: B1 Drivers that drive in the US - do we/can we conduct a query?

Answer: Yes, you must conduct queries on any driver operating a vehicle that requires a CDL in the US. 

Question: Shouldn't the query release form be for a full query vs a limited query if we must do a full query for pre-employment? This would eliminate the need for two forms.

Answer: The full query consent is handled in the Clearinghouse (e.g. the carrier requests it through the Clearinghouse and the driver logs on to grant consent). The limited query consent is handled by a separate form. Here’s a link to the sample form. https://Clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Resource/Index/Sample-Limited-Consent-Form

Question: I'm not sure that our D&A Policy has been updated. Is there an FAQ question on the Clearinghouse site for guidance with this information?

Answer: Details on policy additions can be found at 49 CFR Part 382.601(b)(12)

Question: Do all currently employed cdl drivers need to have a full query done?

Answer: No, you do not need to perform a full query on drivers employed prior to January 6, 2020. You must conduct a limited query on these drivers before January 5, 2021 however. 

Question: If we use 1 TPA for DQ files and another 1 for D&A… would we be able to mark both as TPA (one to report positives and one to handle limited queries)?

Answer: Yes, you may designate specific TPA responsibilities in the Clearinghouse. Your TPAs must be registered to accomplish this however. 

Question: Do the employees need to register under the company that they are in the drug pool even if they drive for another company under a lease agreement. IE employee in drug pool under ABC but drive for XYZ. Do they register with company ABC so that the TPA and/or SAP can log in under that drug pool company.

Answer: Drivers do not indicate the carrier the work for in the Clearinghouse. 

Question: If a driver has not registered in the Clearinghouse, as the employer should we at the very least have a written consent form completed by that driver to run a limited query in order to hire?

Answer: You must run a pre-employment full query on every CDL driver who is expected to operate a CMV requiring a CDL hired on or after January 6, 2020. This requires specific consent granted through the Clearinghouse. As a matter of best practice, we would recommend having the driver sign a limited query consent form at the time of hire so you are authorized to request a limited query within a year of running the full query. 

Question: Do you need to run just a limited query before you hire a driver or a full? My understanding was just a limited and if that showed something then you have to run a full is this incorrect?

Answer: You must run a pre-employment Full Query before you hire a driver. Limited queries are run on existing drivings.

Note: If your question isn't listed in either Part 1 or Part 2 of our Q&A blog posts, we were unable to answer it. All questions directed at the FMCSA have been passed along to their team. If you need further assistance, we encourage you to reach out directly to the FMCSA at: Clearinghouse@dot.gov 


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