The FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is approaching its three-year anniversary. That means new rules are coming on Jan. 6, 2023.

Motor carriers must conduct background investigations before hiring a driver. The process includes checking for drug and alcohol violations within the past three years. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first began its Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse on Jan. 6, 2020, it required employers to take two steps. First, a carrier conducts an electronic query of the clearinghouse database for recent violations. Second, they reach out to previous employers of a driver applicant for drug and alcohol violations and their resolution within the balance of the three-year timeframe.

Checking driver histories with prior employers was always a problematic undertaking. The previous employers might not retain driver records; they might not respond to inquiries; and they may not be in business anymore. The clearinghouse removed that hurdle… that is, once the clearinghouse had accumulated three years’ worth of data. As of Jan. 6, 2023, that will be the case.

Beginning Jan. 6, 2023, prospective employers must not conduct manual inquiries. Instead, they must make electronic pre-employment queries through the clearinghouse.

Three things to bear in mind:

  • The clearinghouse contains only information about drivers employed by FMCSA-regulated employers, such as motor carriers. If a driver applicant worked for a company regulated by a DOT agency other than FMCSA (such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, etc.) during the three-year timeframe, prospective employers still need to directly request drug and alcohol violation information from those DOT-regulated employers.
  • Motor carriers must continue to make annual queries through the clearinghouse of all employed drivers. That hasn’t changed. Those annual queries are on a rolling 12-month basis.
  • Employers must obtain the general consent of a driver before conducting limited queries in the clearinghouse.

Bottom line: come January 2023, the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be the sole source for driver drug and alcohol histories.


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