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  • Writer's pictureHolly Rainwater

FMCSA Clearinghouse: What Railroaders Need to Know

In 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) established the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse). The Clearinghouse is a database which contains information pertaining to violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) controlled substances (drug) and alcohol testing program for holders of CDLs.

The Clearinghouse rule requires FMCSA-regulated employers, medical review officers (MROs), substance abuse professionals (SAPs), consortia/third party administrators (C/TPAs), and other service agents to report to the Clearinghouse information related to violations of the drug and alcohol regulations in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 40 and 382 by current and prospective employees. The intent of the Clearinghouse is to ensure a CDL driver is not prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions (such as operating a CMV) due to a drug and alcohol program violation - if the underlying violation occurred after January 6, 2020.

Drug and alcohol violations include:

  • A verified positive, adulterated, or substituted drug test result;

  • An alcohol confirmation test with a concentration of 0.04 or higher;

  • A refusal to submit to any test required by 49 CFR § 382 subpart C;

  • An employer's report of actual knowledge, as defined at § 382.107:

  • On duty alcohol use pursuant to § 382.205;

  • Pre-duty alcohol use pursuant to § 382.207;

  • Alcohol use following an accident pursuant to § 382.209; and

  • Controlled substance use pursuant to § 382.213

The return to duty and follow-up process includes:

  • A substance abuse professional report of the successful completion of the return-to-duty process;

  • A negative return-to-duty test; and

  • An employer's report of completion of follow-up testing.

Clearinghouse Query's

A query is an electronic records check in the Clearinghouse, conducted by an employer or their designated C/TPA. Information maintained in the Clearinghouse enables employers to identify drivers who commit a drug or alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer (as required by current regulations). Employers are charged a fee for conducting queries in the Clearinghouse. C/TPAs cannot purchase queries on behalf of employers.

Employers must query:

  • current and prospective employees' before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads, and

  • annually for each driver they currently employ.

There are two types of queries, limited queries (which satisfies the annual requirement) and full queries (which satisfies the pre-employment requirement). All queries require driver consent. FMCSA created a sample consent form which can be found on their website -

If a limited query returns a result that there is information recorded in the Clearinghouse about the queried driver, and the employer follows up with a full query to access the detailed violation information. If a driver refuses consent (for any query) the query cannot be conducted and the driver is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions for that employer.

Learn more about the FMCSA Clearinghouse at our upcoming webinar.

When: Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at 11:00 am CDT

Register at:

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