Clearinghouse query deadline approaches

December 28, 2020

Mark Schremmer

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As part of the FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, motor carriers have until Jan. 5 to run their first query on drivers.

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.

“Anyone who employs a commercial driver’s license holder must query the Clearinghouse,” the FMCSA website states. This requirement includes owner-operators – that is, any employer who employs himself or herself as a CDL driver, typically a single-driver operation. Owner-operators must comply with all Clearinghouse requirements imposed on both employers and employees.”

Listen to Land Line Now – Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse: What you need to know


Last year, Amber Schweer, of OOIDA’s drug and alcohol consortium, CMCI, produced a video explaining what motor carriers need to do in order to register for the Clearinghouse. Motor carries must register for the Clearinghouse before conducting a query.

For motor carriers who have not registered yet, 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.

FMCSA also provides a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a limited query.

The steps include:

  • Logging in to the Clearinghouse website and accessing the dashboard.
  • Selecting the employer.
  • Entering and verifying driver information.
  • Conducting the limited query.

For owner-operators, they would follow these steps and then switch the current role to driver, accept the consent and then switch back to the company name to view the query. OOIDA suggests that carriers keep a copy of the queries as a backup.

After the limited query is conducted, the results will determine whether the driver is prohibited or not. If prohibited, a full query must be conducted.

The Clearinghouse opened Jan. 6, 2020, which led to the website crashing soon after as there was a surge of motor carriers attempting to register and run queries. LL

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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.