Questions About the FMCSA Clearinghouse

When are employers required to query the DOT Clearinghouse?

Employers are required to make a pre-employment query for each driver in the Clearinghouse and at least one query each year for each driver during employment. The type of query required is further described below.

Is there a reason to query the Clearinghouse more than as required?

Some drivers are employed by more than one carrier. If another employer your driver works for reports a violation to the Clearinghouse, you will not want to wait until their annual query to obtain this information, or you may be liable for allowing a driver to operate in a safety sensitive position despite his/her ineligibility to do so. 

What information will employers need to query specific drivers in the Clearinghouse?

Employers will need to have the driver’s full name, CDL Number, and state of issuance to query the driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Can employer query multiple drivers at once with batch uploads?

Yes. The employer or the C/TPA will upload a tab-delimited file containing the following information for each driver that will be queried:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth
  • CDL #
  • Country
  • State
  • A Number 1-4 Representing Query Type: 
    • 1 – Limited
    • 2 – Full
    • 3 – Pre-Employment
    • 4 – Limited with Automatic Consent Request

“Automatic Consent Request” means that, if a limited query returns that the driver has violation information in his/her Clearinghouse record, the Clearinghouse will automatically submit a request from your employer to that driver for his/her consent to a full query.

Do employers still need to query past employers for drug and alcohol violations occurring in the three years before January 6, 2020?

Yes. Only violations occurring after January 6, 2020 will be available in the Clearinghouse, so employers will need to conduct traditional verifications with their drivers’ past DOT-regulated employers in addition to querying the Clearinghouse until January 2023. 

What is the cost charged by the FMCSA for queries?

Employers will be charged a fee by the FMCSA for full and limited queries of $1.25 per query (plus any services costs incurred by using a C/TPA). Queries must be purchased in batches, and these will never expire. Unlimited packages are also available for high-volume employers. Unlimited packages cost $24,000 and must be renewed annually.

Employers must purchase queries directly from the Clearinghouse, as C/TPAs are unable to purchase queries for their customers. 

Can drivers dispute information on their Clearinghouse records?

Yes. Disputes will be handled by the FMCSA, which will notify drivers of its decision within 14 days if the record in question is prohibiting the driver from performing safety-sensitive job functions or within 45 days if it is not.

FMCSA will notify any employers that have viewed a record that has been changed after the outcome of their review. 

When must employers make limited vs. full queries?

Employers must conduct a limited or full query at least once every year for all drivers.  

Employers must conduct a pre-employment query for a prospective driver in the Clearinghouse prior to hiring the driver for a position requiring him or her to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Employers conduct a full query if a limited query returns any results.

What type of consent is needed before an employer may query the Clearinghouse for a driver?

Limited queries require only a general consent, which must be obtained outside of the Clearinghouse. Employers can find an example limited-query consent form here. General consent is not required on an annual basis, as it may be effective for more than one year. However, the form must specify the time-frame the driver is providing consent for.

Full queries require electronic consent provided in the driver’s portal. If a driver is not registered before consent is requested, the process will be significantly delayed. Consent is required prior to each full query and must be received by the employer within 24 hours of the employer's request. Failure to consent would require the driver to be removed from safety sensitive functions.

What information will employers receive?

Limited queries will return notification about whether the driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations. They do not provide specific information about violations.

Full queries will return detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

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