The 5 W’s, 1 H, and a Few C’s on the FMCSA Clearinghouse for Employers


The 5 W’s, 1 H, and a Few C’s on the FMCSA Clearinghouse for Employers

Hello! Todd Shoulberg, President of Medical Information Services (MIS) at ClearStar, here to bring you the next installment of For The Public Record—a blog that features thought leadership from the most seasoned experts at ClearStar, across all functions of the background screening process.

There has been much hype around the fact that a rule passed back in 2016 is finally coming into effect next year. Of course, I’m talking about the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (81 FR 87686).

Registration for this database just opened up last month for all employers and service agents. The query plans just went online this month for purchase. The full Clearinghouse is open for business at the beginning of January 2020.

Feeling behind? Here are the important facts to get employers up to speed:


U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse)


The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

Employers must report alcohol test results with a concentration of .04 or greater, refusals to take an alcohol or drug test, as well as actual knowledge of a violation.

Employers will also need to report negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the successful completion of a driver’s follow-up testing plan.

Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) on public roads.

Employers will also be required to annually query the Clearinghouse for each driver they currently employ.



The Clearinghouse will enable employers to identify drivers who commit a drug and alcohol program violation while working for one employer, but who fail to subsequently inform another employer (as required by current regulations).


January 6th, 2020


Employers who have DOT/FMCSA employees will need to register and pre-purchase query plans. These query plans are $1.25 per search or $24,500 for unlimited searches for one year. Employers will have to query all new hires and all current drivers on a yearly basis. These searches are in addition to the current required checks under 49 CFR Part 40 Section 40.25. After January 6th, 2023, employers only have to query the Clearinghouse to satisfy these requirements.

The website listed above has tons of information and a pretty hefty FAQ section. This new service is being applauded in the industry but will have some hiccups at the start.


  • There is a lack of API or web services integration. All information must be entered directly on the FMCSA website and not via any other method.
  • Only end user employers may purchase queries. If an FMCSA company would like a service agent to run queries for them, the purchased codes must be given to the service agent (CRA/TPA) to be used.
  • If a driver does not pre-register for consent, it is done by U.S. Mail, which will add days or weeks to turnaround time.
  • No clear direction has been given on how best to use the CDL state and license number on the Custody and Control Form (CCF) as the only ID#, no longer using the SSN.

As a reminder, this only applies to the FMCSA mode under DOT. All other modes do not report to this database, and you do not need to query it. Here is a fact sheet that applies to Employers Only.

If you have any questions you are being encouraged to reach out via [email protected] or you can email ClearStar’s MIS office at [email protected]. This is for the record.


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    Todd Shoulberg

    Todd Shoulberg - President, Medical Information Services

    Todd Shoulberg provides direction and leadership to the daily operations of ClearStar’s Medical Review Office. He is responsible for keeping all drug testing clients in compliance with state, federal, and local regulations, and identifies new testing methods and products for clients to utilize in their drug testing programs. Before joining ClearStar, Todd served as Vice President of Florida Drug Screening, Inc., where he oversaw operations of the Medical Review Office, including Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service.

    At ClearStar, we are committed to your success. An important part of your employment screening program involves compliance with various laws and regulations, which is why we are providing information regarding screening requirements in certain countries, region, etc. While we are happy to provide you with this information, it is your responsibility to comply with applicable laws and to understand how such information pertains to your employment screening program. The foregoing information is not offered as legal advice but is instead offered for informational purposes. ClearStar is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice and this communication does not form an attorney client relationship. The foregoing information is therefore not intended as a substitute for the legal advice of a lawyer knowledgeable of the user’s individual circumstances or to provide legal advice. ClearStar makes no assurances regarding the accuracy, completeness, or utility of the information contained in this publication. Legislative, regulatory and case law developments regularly impact on general research and this area is evolving rapidly. ClearStar expressly disclaim any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of the information provided herein.


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