Stand Against Impaired Driving: Query the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

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6 Dec 2022

Employers of CDL drivers are required to query the Clearinghouse to verify that their current or prospective employees are not prohibited from operating CMVs.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts everyone on the road in danger. Due to their size and weight, crashes involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) have a high risk of injuries and fatalities. Impaired driving and CMVs can be a deadly combination.

To help employers of CMV operators keep unsafe drivers off the road, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse).


What is the FMCSA CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse?

A secure, online database, the Clearinghouse retains a centralized record of positive drug and alcohol test results of holders commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) or commercial learner’s permits (CLPs). The Clearinghouse also records refusals to test, and employers’ actual knowledge of drug and alcohol program violations, as the repercussions for these are the same as for positive test results.


How are employers required to use the Clearinghouse?

Employers of CDL drivers must:

  • Conduct annual queries to check if current employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, such as operating CMVs, due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation.
  • Conduct pre-employment queries to check if prospective hires are prohibited.
  • Report CDL driver violations of the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy that are not reported by a medical review officer (MRO).
  • Register in the Clearinghouse, which is required to complete the above actions.


What types of employers does the Clearinghouse affect?

Employers of all CDL and CLP holders who operate CMVs on public roads are covered by the Clearinghouse requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, employers of:

  • Interstate and intrastate motor carriers, including large trucks and motor coaches.
  • School bus drivers.
  • Construction equipment operators.
  • Limousine drivers.
  • Municipal vehicle drivers, such as waste management vehicles.
  • Federal, State, and local entities that employ drivers subject to FMCSA drug and alcohol use testing regulations (Department of Defense, municipalities, school districts, etc.).


How does a drug and alcohol program violation impact CDL drivers?

Drivers must be removed from safety-sensitive functions if a query conducted by their employer indicates the driver is in a “prohibited” status. The driver must complete the return-to-duty process established in 49 CFR part 40 before resuming safety-sensitive functions.

By 2024, as part of new Federal regulations, FMCSA is partnering with State Driver’s License Agencies (SDLAs) so drivers with violations reported to the Clearinghouse will lose or be denied a commercial driving privilege until the driver completes the return-to-duty process.

Keeping unsafe CMV drivers off the road is the responsibility of all employers of CMV operators. Keep your fleet running safely and protect everyone on our Nation’s roads—query the Clearinghouse records as required when you hire CDL drivers and at least once a year.


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