Do you remember the beginning of 2020 when the crash of the FMCSA’s CDL Clearinghouse website caused registration confusion? The launch was supposed to be a smooth process as companies had three months prior to register. But few did. As a result of so many people attempting to register through the website at the last minute, the website was overloaded and crashed, causing registration errors and quick fixes just to get people in the system.
The FMCSA Clearinghouse is an online database where new drug and alcohol testing violations and return-to-duty information of CDL drivers is stored and searched. This database has worked well in preventing drug users from job-hopping, as well as open the book on what is happening real-time with the trucking industry drug testing statistics.
In the first 8 months, the Clearinghouse was in effect, over 35,000 drivers were found with a positive drug test forcing them to begin the return-to-duty and SAP process before getting back on the road. According to the latest Clearinghouse report, marijuana accounted for nearly half of the positive drug test results, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine, and amphetamine.
However, we are now less than three months away from another major Clearinghouse deadline where companies could face fines, if in violation.
Clearinghouse Website May Crash Again as Required Annual Query Deadline Approaches
With the FMCSA Clearinghouse now in effect for pre-employment, random testing and return-to-duty processes, employers of CDL drivers must follow a new drug testing process when hiring a potential new driver before a pre-employment drug test can be done at a collection site. Violations can occur if required information is not loaded into the database, or if pre-employment drug tests are performed before a new hire gives consent for a detailed query.
Before the new hire driver can be tested, the employer needs to make sure the driver is registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse, then request electronic driver consent to run a detailed query, run a query on the driver (employer or C/TPA), and ensure no recent negative drug testing history is present. After the detailed query is done, the pre-employment drug test can continue as part of the pre-employment new-hire process.
The other major required process for employers, including owner-operators, is to annually query all current CDL drivers at least once a year to make sure no violations appeared in the database. If the limited query returns any results, a detailed query is required. This means the majority of CDL drivers need to have had a limited query run on them by January 6, 2021 or face potential violations and fines if found to be done late or not at all during an audit.
Early Clearinghouse registration issues led officials to advise employers to wait to register until December 2020 or January 2021. Consequently, a large spike in DOT Clearinghouse web traffic is expected as companies rush to register and submit annual queries to the DOT Clearinghouse before the deadline.
What Fleets Need to Do Before 2021 Deadline
Every employer with CDL drivers needs to verify that they are registered to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. After registering, employers will purchase query tokens that will be used to when they want to run limited or detailed queries on their drivers or potential new drivers. Owner-operators should purchase around 5 query token to run their annual queries each year, lasting them five years before they need to purchase more tokens.
Larger fleets should purchase query plans around two-and-a-half times their driver size to last two years of annual queries and a handful of new hire drivers. Finally, annual queries can be run on all CDL drivers within the company.
Lucas Kibby is Marketing Coordinator for Compliance Navigation Specialists, has become a trusted voice in the trucking industry in the last 5 years with expertise around DOT regulatory compliance, safety, ELDs, and drug and alcohol testing. He has written hundreds of articles with many published in FleetOwner, Transport Topics, Commercial Carrier Journal, Inbound Logistics, DATIA magazine, and Oregon Trucking Association’s magazine.
Do you need help registering to the FMCSA Clearinghouse or looking to switch to a trusted drug testing consortium? Compliance Navigation Specialists offer a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Consortium Service and are a certified consortium and third-party administrator (C/TPA). Compliance Navigation Specialists helps trucking and transportation companies remain safe, compliant and profitable across the United States.