Digital Journal

Clearinghouse: An Essential Requirements for Truck Drivers


In the transportation sector, ensuring safety on the roads is extremely important. This concern becomes even more critical when it comes to commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and the potential risks associated with drug and alcohol violations. This is why in 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced theDrug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) in the United States.

DACH is a secure, centralized database maintained by the FMCSA. The key purpose of it is to provide law enforcement, state licensing agencies, and employers in the transportation sector. This online database is specifically designed to record and provide real-time access information about all drug and alcohol testing violations committed by CMV drivers.

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) is designed to streamline the reporting and querying process for employers, substance abuse professionals (SAPs), consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs), medical review officers (MROs), enforcement agencies, and other authorized users.

These employers and other designated service agents are required to record and have access to real-time information about an employee’s drug and alcohol violations, such as positive drug test results and refusals to test. By reporting this information, the Clearinghouse maintains a comprehensive record of a driver’s history of drug and alcohol violations.

If you’re also facing issues with the Clearinghouse database or queries, keep on reading.

In this post, we will delve into the intricacies of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse, exploring its importance, types of queries, working, data submission, registration requirements, and the cost of queries.

Let’s begin.

What is The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse?

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) was implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on January 6, 2020. The clearing house is established to record the driver’s controlled substances (drug) and alcohol testing violations to enhance road safety and improve hiring practices.

This national database identifies, tracks, and stores all the information of the holders of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) related to violations of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).   

If any CMV driver or employee violates the federal drug and alcohol testing regulations, it must be reported to the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse by medical review officers (MROs), consortia/TPAs, substance abuse professionals (SAPs), and other service agents.

According to this law, every employer, enforcement agency, and other authorized users should monitor Clearinghouse for their new and prospective employees. They must verify the records for any previous drug or alcohol violations before permitting them to operate a commercial vehicle. Trucking companies also need to query the drug and alcohol testing violation database for each employed CDL or CLP annually.

Why Is The Clearinghouse Important?

The Clearinghouse improves the system’s data integrity and makes the entire enforcement process easy and convenient for employers and other authorized users. This practice promotes road safety, reduces impaired driving incidents, and makes hiring more reliable.  

With the help of Clearinghouse, employers can identify and monitor drivers who have been taken off the road. They can also be queried to ensure they have received rehabilitation and completed the return-to-duty process before driving again.

Types of Clearinghouse Queries

There are two types of Clearinghouse queries:

●    Limited Queries:

The motor carriers do the limited queries to verify whether their CMV drivers have proper drug & alcohol Clearinghouse information in the database. However, if an employer runs this type of query, they need to wait at least 24 hours because it is required to get consent from the CMV driver.     

●    Full Queries:

Trucking companies and employers conduct full queries pre-employment to check the resolved or unresolved violations of the drug and alcohol testing regulations and the return-to-duty status of the driver after completing a treatment program. Employers can access detailed information about the driver in this type of query.   

How Does Clearinghouse Work?

As mentioned above, the DACH is a secure online database that helps streamline the data of CMV drivers. It is mandatory for employers, trucking companies, and other querying entities to submit information about prospective and current employees pertaining to drug and alcohol violations to the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

With the help of the Clearinghouse online database, any employer can easily track their driver and employee’s history of drug and alcohol testing violations. They can check and verify who tested positive or violated the law. They can also conduct a query to see who has obtained rehabilitation and completed the return-to-duty process. And based on these records, employers can permit the drivers to drive again.

How to Conduct a Clearinghouse Query?

First, you must register on the Clearinghouse and buy a query plan. You can purchase any query plan, from single queries to bundle queries.

To run a query, you need to fill in the following details:

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • Commercial driver’s license (CDL)/ Commercial learner’s permit (CLP) number along with its state & country of issuance.

After this, the clearing house database will automatically send the CMV driver a request for their consent to provide the full query information.

Who Needs to Register in the Clearinghouse?

As a trucking company, CDL driver, employer, or carrier operating in the United States, it’s mandatory to register in the Clearinghouse. If you’re covered under FMCSA regulations for drug and alcohol testing, you must conduct queries; otherwise, you violate the law and may face civil or criminal penalties.

Various people and employers need to register with the DACH, including:

  • CDL drivers operating commercial motor vehicles.
  • Construction equipment operators.
  • School bus drivers
  • Driver applying for a new job.
  • Federal organizations
  • Municipal vehicle drivers (waste management)
  • Companies that employ drivers.
  • CMV Employers
  • Limousine drivers
  • Interstate and intrastate motor carriers and passenger carriers

Entities who do not register in the Clearinghouse are not allowed to perform driving duties.

What Data is Submitted to the Clearinghouse?

The DACH is the repository to access information about the drug and alcohol testing violations committed by commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders.

It is mandatory to submit the below data to the Clearing House:

●    Positive Drug Test Results

The DACH maintains a history of CMV drivers who have tested positive for prohibited substances (drugs) in the testing process.

●    Refusals to Test

The clearing house also records the number of times a CMV driver refuses to perform a drug or alcohol test.

●    Return-to-Duty Process

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse also contains the record of all CMV drivers who have successfully performed and completed the return-to-duty (RTD) process in the drug and alcohol testing violations. 

Who Does The Clearinghouse Impact?

The drug & alcohol clearinghouse regulations mainly impact the entities involved in the transportation industry, such as:

●    Employers

Employers and organizations that employ drivers are required to perform queries and submit information about the hiring and retention of drivers. They need to submit the information and verify the employee’s or CMV driver’s record with drug and alcohol testing regulations and contribute to the road safety law.

●    CMV Drivers

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also affects truck drivers or commercial drivers. It is compulsory for the drivers to register with the Clearinghouse database.

So, during their hiring process, they can also review their information related to drug and alcohol testing violations to check its accuracy. This way, they can easily give their consent to the employers to access their history of records.

●    Enforcement Agencies

With the help of the clearinghouse database, it’s easier and more convenient for enforcement agencies to conduct and verify drug and alcohol testing violations by CMV drivers. This helps in bolstering overall safety on the roads.   

How Much Clearinghouse Queries Cost?

The cost of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse queries depends on the number of

queries conducted by employers or other designated service agents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has introduced different pricing plans for different types of queries raised by entities. The queries can range from individual queries to bulk query plans. 

There is no cost for the CMV drivers registered for the DACH. They can access their records online free of charge. However, for the owner-operators and other query entities, there is a price implemented by FMCSA.  

Employers can either raise a single query or buy a “query bundle” from FMCSA for the drug and alcohol testing regulations. These bundles are customizable per a particular business’s requirements, and these queries never expire. The initial cost breakdown of the single basic query is $1.25, set by FMCSA for both limited and full queries.

Final Thoughts

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH) is a vital tool that enhances road safety and helps track and record CMV drivers with drug and alcohol violations. Clearinghouse helps to monitor and store all the information on a safe online platform. With the help of this, motor carriers, trucking companies, employers, and even CMV drivers can view and maintain their accurate records. 

If you’re facing difficulties with the Clearinghouse, you can take help from the DOT Compliance Group (DCG). For more guidance and consultation, contact us today for more information.

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