Clearinghouse hits traffic jam as Jan. 5 deadline looms

December 30, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Several owner-operators have informed Land Line that they are experiencing difficulties registering for FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and that they haven’t found any help through the agency’s 800 number.

FMCSA’s Clearinghouse website lists 1-800-724-2811 as the number to call for those who need assistance linking their portal account with their Clearinghouse account. According to several owner-operators, the call would quickly become disconnected. Multiple calls to the number by Land Line on Wednesday, Dec. 30, yielded similar results. A recording said the agency was experiencing excessive wait times and asked to try back later. Then the call was disconnected. The one time Land Line’s call made it through, the call was put on hold and the recording said the wait time would be 71 minutes.

In response to an email from Land Line, FMCSA officials said that while an end-of-year rush was anticipated its staff was working diligently to be as immediately responsive as possible and asked for drivers to keep trying.

The excessive wait times become all the more concerning as the Clearinghouse deadline of Jan. 5 for motor carriers to run an annual query on drivers is only days away.

Owner-operators under their own authority are required to conduct queries on themselves. Those who don’t comply by the Jan. 5 deadline could be subject to a fine.

The Clearinghouse launched Jan. 6, 2020. Drivers hired before that date must have an annual limited query run on them by Jan. 5. Drivers hired after that date were required to undergo a full query when hired. Those drivers will then need an annual limited query conducted by the anniversary of his or her hire date. However, motor carriers don’t have to wait and may want to do all of them at once as queries must be conducted annually.

For motor carriers who are having difficulties with linking their portal account, OOIDA suggests that motor carriers bypass the FMCSA portal portion of the registration process given the time constraints and reports that the portal has not been working correctly.

The Clearinghouse will ask a series of questions that need to be answered in such a way to bypass the portal.

  • Do you have an FMCSA portal account? Answer no.
  • Do you have a DOT number? Answer no.
  • When it asks if you have a DOT number or if you will obtain one later, answer that you will obtain one later.

Once in the Clearinghouse, queries can be run.

For more information on how to make sure you meet the deadline, listen to a recent Land Line Now podcast that attempts to clear up the confusion regarding the Clearinghouse.

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Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.