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Before hiring a CDL driver, employers need to determine whether the driver has any drug or alcohol program violations. To do this, they need to query the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

To conduct a pre-employment query, employers need to:

  1. Set up an account in the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
    The FMCSA Clearinghouse website has information on how to register.
  2. Log into their Clearinghouse account and purchase a query plan.
    Employers are charged a fee for conducting Clearinghouse queries and must purchase a plan to conduct queries of driver Clearinghouse records. Employers conduct queries as part of pre-employment investigations, as well as annually for all employed drivers, and typically purchase a query bundle based on the number of annual queries that are conducted.
  3. Make a contingent offer of employment to the driver.
    Queries should be conducted after the offer of employment has been made. The employment offer can be contingent on the query results.
  4. Make sure the driver has a Clearinghouse account.
    For the sake of efficiency, it’s best for the driver to have an account set up before an employer query is conducted. Drivers will be notified when an employer asks for permission to view their information in the Clearinghouse, and they will need to have a driver account in order to give consent. If they are already registered in the Clearinghouse, they can receive the consent requests via email. If they don’t have a personal account, they’ll receive a letter via U.S. mail asking them to create an account. This will delay the hiring process.
  5. Conduct the query in the Clearinghouse.
    After the driver gives consent, the query is conducted and the employer receives information about any violations or return-to-duty details.
  6. Continue with the hiring process and take action based on the results of the Clearinghouse query:
    • If the driver has no violations, the driver may perform safety-sensitive functions (including driving) for the employer.
    • If the driver has a violation and a negative return-to-duty test, the driver may perform safety-sensitive functions (including driving) for the employer. If the follow-up testing plan has not been completed, the driver must complete follow-up testing plan as specified by the substance abuse professional (SAP).
    • If the driver has a violation and no negative return-to-duty test result, the driver cannot perform safety-sensitive functions.

Key to remember: Employers must conduct a pre-employment query of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse before hiring a CDL driver.