New FMCSA requirements go into effect January 6th, 2020

December 31, 2019

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new requirements for a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse go into effect on January 6, 2020. On and after that date, all companies that use drivers who have a Commercial Driver’s License or a Commercial Learner’s Permit must do four things:

  1. Register with the FMCSA to use the Clearinghouse. Registration is now available on the Clearinghouse website portal by clicking here.
  2. Upload information to the Clearinghouse on any drug or alcohol violations occurring on or after January 6, 2020 by any CDL driver that your company uses. (Note: Violations that occurred prior to January 6, 2020 do not need to be uploaded.)
  3. Query the Clearinghouse for drug or alcohol violations by any prospective CDL driver that your company is considering hiring or contracting to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
  4. Companies must also annually query the database for information about all current CDL drivers they use.


Motor carrier companies must register with the Clearinghouse in order to upload information about an employee driver’s positive tests or refusals to take a test, and also to query the system for current or prospective drivers. A company may use a Consortium/Third Party Administrator (C/TPA) to access the Clearinghouse database on behalf of the company.

Drivers must also register with the Clearinghouse to provide electronic consent to the company seeking information regarding the driver, and to review the accuracy of any information in the queried driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Uploading Information
When one of your drivers tests positive for drugs or alcohol, or refuses to take a DOT-mandated drug or alcohol test, that information must be uploaded into the Clearinghouse database. The Medical Review Officer will report the information to the Clearinghouse on behalf of the company.

NOTE: Only positive DOT test results or refusals to take a DOT test may be reported to the Clearinghouse. Companies may not report non-DOT tests or refusals to the Clearinghouse.

The Clearinghouse will notify the driver using the method indicated during the driver’s Clearinghouse registration — either postal mail or email — any time information about the driver is added, revised, or removed. If the driver has not yet registered for the Clearinghouse, these notifications will be sent by postal mail using the address associated with the driver’s commercial driver’s license.

NOTE: FMCSA recently announced that beginning January 1, 2020, the minimum annual percentage rate for random controlled substances testing increases to 50 percent of the average number of driver positions. The minimum rate was previously 25 percent. The minimum annual percentage rate for random alcohol testing will remain at 10 percent.


A query is an electronic check in the Clearinghouse, conducted by an employer or prospective employer or their designated Consortium/Third Party Administrator, to determine if current or prospective driver employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle, due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.

There are two types of queries:

LIMITED QUERIES: This is a check for the presence of information in the queried driver’s Clearinghouse record. A driver must give written consent to an employer or prospective employer before the limited query may be conducted. If the Limited Query indicates there is information in the driver’s Clearinghouse record, then a Full Query is necessary to find out the nature of the drug or alcohol program violations in the driver’s record.

FULL QUERIES: The queries disclose to employers and designated C/TPAs detailed information about any resolved or unresolved violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record. 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, the employer will only be charged once for both queries.

All queries into the database will cost $1.25 each. A company may purchase queries from the Clearinghouse in bundles to avoid paying each time there is a transaction, but the cost is still $1.25 per query.

The Clearinghouse will contain only violations that occurred on or after January 6, 2020. If a driver’s violation occurred prior to that date, and is in the return-to-duty (RTD) process when the Clearinghouse is implemented, the violation and any related RTD activity will not be entered into the Clearinghouse.

More Information

There is more information for employers on the Clearinghouse website, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions. Companies may also sign up to receive email alerts when new information on the Clearinghouse becomes available.