OOIDA provides tutorial on drug and alcohol clearinghouse

December 17, 2019

Mark Schremmer


If you’re needing to register for the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol clearinghouse but don’t know where to begin, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has you covered.

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, OOIDA published a video that takes drivers and motor carriers step-by-step through the registration process. The effective date for the drug and alcohol clearinghouse is Jan. 6, 2020.

The clearinghouse is intended to be a secure online database allowing FMCSA, commercial motor vehicle employers, state driver licensing agencies, and law enforcement officials to quickly identify CDL holders who have violated federal drug and alcohol testing requirements. A December 2016 final rule to establish the clearinghouse was mandated by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

The clearinghouse will contain records of violations of drug and alcohol prohibitions, including positive drug or alcohol test results and test refusals. When a driver completes the return-of-duty process and follow-up testing plan, this information will also be recorded in the clearinghouse.

OOIDA also issued a Call to Action to its members on Dec. 17 to help eliminate any confusion regarding the requirements of the clearinghouse. FMCSA recently issued a final rule to extend the compliance date for states’ query of the drug and alcohol clearinghouse for three years. However, the compliance date of Jan. 6, 2020 remains in place for all other requirements in the clearinghouse final rule.

The process varies a little depending on whether you are an individual CDL holder, an employer/motor carrier, or an owner-operator with your own authority.

For individual CDL holders

Clearinghouse registration is not a required step for drivers. If a driver is never required to provide consent to a pre-employment or other full query and never incurs a drug and alcohol program violation, then the driver will not need to register.

However, a driver will need to be registered to provide electronic consent in the clearinghouse for a prospective or current employer to conduct a full query of his or her driving record. Beginning Jan. 6, a full query will be required during a pre-employment screening for a CDL holder. Failing to consent to a query will result in a driver being prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions for the employer conducting the query.

In addition, a driver must also be registered to view the information electronically in his or her own clearinghouse record. So drivers don’t necessarily have to register, but they may still want to do so.

For employers/motor carriers

Beginning Jan. 6, employers will be required to report drug and alcohol violations and conduct queries.

Violations to be reported include alcohol test results with a concentration of 0.04 or greater, refusals to take an alcohol or drug test, as well as actual knowledge of a violation. Employers will also report negative return-to-duty test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan. The information must be reported by the close of the third business day after the employer is notified.

Employers are required to conduct full queries on prospective employees to see if they are prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle because of unresolved drug and alcohol violations. Employers also must query all current employees at last once a year. All queries require driver consent.

For owner-operators

Owner-operators with their own authority are subject to the requirements pertaining to employers as well as those pertaining to drivers.

Yes, that means owner-operators are required to conduct queries on themselves at least once a year.

Owner-operators with their own authority must designate a consortium or third-party administrator.

Registration for the clearinghouse can be done here. There is no cost to register.

Facebook Live

Experts from OOIDA’s Drug Testing Consortium will be explaining the details of the clearinghouse and answering questions on Wednesday, Dec. 18. Visit OOIDA’s Facebook page at 3:30 p.m. Central time on Dec. 18 to watch live. The video will be uploaded to OOIDA’s YouTube page following the live Q&A.

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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.