In order to check for new infractions, motor carriers are obligated to run queries on all new drivers and once a year on all of their existing drivers. The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is the name of the online database that is utilized to carry out this activity. There are both full and limited queries, but before you can execute a full query, you must have the driver’s permission.

As was previously stated, this is a yearly requirement and has been since January 2020, so don’t put it off!

What’s a Clearinghouse Query?

Information on drug and alcohol offenses for commercial drivers with a CDL or CLP is gathered in the DOT Clearinghouse database. Alcohol and drug use by commercial drivers while on duty, even several hours prior to the start of their shift, is severely prohibited by the FMCSA.

The following is expressly prohibited per FMCSA regulations:

  • Having a BAC of more than .04 percent when reporting for work
  • Consuming alcohol or using any kind of substance that alters awareness while performing tasks that need safety consideration
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages or medicines that affect cognition four hours before a shift begins
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages or substances that affect cognition within eight hours of truck crashes or before a post-accident screening is finished
  • Rejecting a scheduled or random drug and alcohol test

Before you may verify a driver’s record, you must first seek their permission and save such documents for recordkeeping purposes. If a driver refuses to consent, they must be suspended from duty until they do so and the necessary inquiries are carried out.

Limited vs. Full Queries

Employers must perform limited queries to discover if a driver’s record contains drug and alcohol offences or other infractions. Limited queries are performed annually as required by law, but they can be performed more frequently if desired. If a violation is listed in the limited query and further information is needed, a complete query is required.

The primary distinction between the two is that a full query includes detailed information about the infraction as well as return to duty information.

DOT Clearinghouse Recordkeeping Obligations

All DOT Clearinghouse checks and a copy of each driver’s completed authorization form must be kept on file by motor carriers. These documents must be retained for at least three years and in a safe, easily accessible location so that they can be easily reached if a DOT auditor requests them.

What Happens if I Don’t Comply?

As previously stated, every transportation company is required to conduct annual queries and keep data on all of their drivers. Failure to comply can result in expensive fines and penalties for both drivers and carriers. Having unfit individuals operating your trucks not only puts other drivers on the road at risk, but it can also harm your reputation in the transportation business. Unsafe driving behaviors can also have a significant impact on your truck insurance costs.

For more tips on employing truck drivers for your fleet, refer to our blog.

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