Understanding Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

A clear understanding of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse can help you understand your obligations as a licensed driver and what you need to do to stay safe. This article will discuss employers’ requirements, reporting violations, and non-CDL testing.

Background Checks

Generally, a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse search is conducted electronically. The Clearinghouse is an online database that contains records of violations of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Program. The database is available to both motor carriers and government agencies.

The Clearinghouse contains records of alcohol and drug violations for commercial drivers. Motor carriers can use this information to make more informed hiring decisions.

Employers may also run random tests on current employees to ensure they are sober enough to operate a commercial vehicle safely. These tests are conducted to comply with a company’s drug and alcohol policy. They may also be undertaken to ensure that new employees are sober enough to work in hazardous conditions.

Depending on the employer, the background check may occur close to the new employee’s start date or a few months later. It may include a criminal background check or a five-panel drug test. It may also have a breath test.

The background check process is comprehensive, and employers must comply with state and local laws. Some employers may delegate this work to a third party. However, this may take a substantial amount of time and effort.

Requirements for Employers

DOT/FMCSA-regulated employers must report drug and alcohol violations to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. They must also report refusals to submit to required testing. If employees refuse to submit to required testing, their ability to perform safety-sensitive functions may be restricted. In addition, FMCSA drug and alcohol clearinghouse will monitor the return-to-duty process.

The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse was created to improve safety on our nation’s roadways. It is a secure electronic database that tracks CDL drivers who refuse to submit to required drug and alcohol testing. It also helps to facilitate Substance Abuse Professional evaluations. The Clearinghouse also helps employers identify drivers who may be prohibited from operating a CMV.

Employers must register to access the Clearinghouse and run queries on their employees. Once registered, employers can search the database for information on current and prospective employees. They can also authorize service agents to conduct queries. All authorized users must be re-authorized annually.

Reporting Violations

During the first year of implementation of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, FMCSA received 56,000 drug and alcohol violations. Unfortunately, the number of violations is on pace to rise in 2021.

FMCSA created the Clearinghouse to make reporting drug and alcohol program violations easier for drivers and employers. It is also intended to provide real-time information about drivers with violations. It is a secure online database that holds records of violations and alcohol violations.

It is a good idea to hire an outside firm to handle your Clearinghouse reporting obligations. This is especially true if you have employees who drive for your fleet. It is essential to ensure that your driver’s drug and alcohol records are up to date. You should also conduct regular self-audits of these records.

You should also register your company or your C/TPA in the Clearinghouse. You will need to do this before you can conduct entire queries of driver records. If you do not do so, you will be responsible for removing safety-sensitive employees who have unresolved violations.


Whether you are a driver, an employer, or a service agent, you need to understand what the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is. The Clearinghouse database tracks and records all drug and alcohol violations in the FMCSA program. This will allow enforcement personnel to determine the level of treatment a driver has received. Moreover, it will make it easier for employers to comply with pre-employment investigation obligations.

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is free to sign up for. To register, drivers can complete a consent form. Employers can then access their records through the Clearinghouse. Moreover, the FMCSA Clearinghouse will be an essential tool for employers to identify drivers who may have drug or alcohol violations. Furthermore, it will also provide support to employers who encounter drivers who have violations.

FMCSA is working with the FRA drug and alcohol testing program to ensure the Clearinghouse does not conflict with FRA regulations. Moreover, the Clearinghouse will be protected by the Privacy Act. It has already detected over 8,000 violations since its launch.

The FMCSA Clearinghouse is a federal database that tracks and records drug and alcohol violations in the FMCSA program. It also follows positive drug tests and alcohol tests. If an employee fails a drug or alcohol test, the employer must report the violation to the Clearinghouse.

Non-CDL Testing

Currently, there is no requirement for non-CDL employers to query the Clearinghouse. They may conduct non-DOT drug and alcohol tests on their employees. This may be done in the pre-employment phase or as part of the return-to-duty process. However, the information generated from such tests is not reported to the Clearinghouse.

FMCSA has responded to some comments relating to the non-CDL testing requirement. They have stated that they support the querying requirement for employers. However, they are concerned about the possibility of false claims of test refusals being used by motor carriers to retaliate against drivers. FMCSA believes the commenters’ comments have merit. They have discussed the issue with SLAs. They are working to find the most effective way to share the information.

FMCSA believes that the information in the Clearinghouse is intended to verify drug prohibitions. They believe the information is not intended for MRO verifications or crash investigations. They also believe that the information in the Clearinghouse should not be used to coerce drivers.

In the Clearinghouse, all records of violations of the FMCSA drug and alcohol testing program are stored. These records will follow drivers as they change employers or apply for a CDL in a different State.