Reminder! Conduct Your Query Requirements
Conduct Annual Queries Before January 6, 2021
What Does This Mean?
Per § 382.701, employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query in the FMCSA D&A Clearinghouse at least once per year for each CDL driver they employ. Employers may designate a consortium/third-party administrator (C/TPA) to conduct queries on their behalf.
The annual query requirement is tracked on a rolling 12-month basis. For example, if an employer conducts a query on a driver on March 1, 2020, the employer is not required to conduct another query on that driver again until March 1, 2021.
Why Is This Important?
Conducting a query in the Clearinghouse each year is important because, for one, you can be fined. Just FYI, the fines are pretty steep!
The Clearinghouse provides FMCSA and employers the necessary tools to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a CMV based on U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol program violations, and ensure that such drivers receive the required evaluation and treatment before operating a CMV on public roads.
So really what it comes down to is safety. The Clearinghouse improves highway safety for your drivers as well as others on the road.
View Your Company Query Plan Information
As an employer, any queries you conduct will be deducted from your query balance. You can view information about your query plan status in your Clearinghouse account. Log in to the Clearinghouse and navigate to My Dashboard > . Look under Query Balance to see how many queries, if any, you have left in their balance. We recommend you always keep at least a small balance available to ensure you are not scrambling for bank info at the last minute.
As an Employer, You Must Purchase A Query Plan
Without a query plan, employers and their C/TPAs cannot conduct Clearinghouse queries on current and potential new employees, which is a regulatory requirement for employers of CDL drivers.
Registered employers may purchase query plans only on the FMCSA Clearinghouse website. C/TPAs may not purchase query plans on behalf of an employer. A separate query plan must be purchased for each individual company.
If you are already a client of DOTReady and would like us to run these queries for you, let us know. For our DOTReady Software clients, this is an added benefit at no additional charge. Contact Us to let us know if you would like us to run the queries for you.
Obtaining Consent: Sample Limited Consent Request Form
Per § 382.703, an employer cannot access a driver’s Clearinghouse record without first obtaining that driver’s consent. The type of consent depends on the type of query the employer, or their C/TPA, is conducting.
A limited query satisfies the annual query requirement. Before conducting a limited query, an employer, or their C/TPA, must obtain general consent outside of the Clearinghouse. This may be obtained in writing and may be valid for multiple years.
Did you know? DOTReady Software has this release form automatically embedded into our online applications for your potential drivers. Less hassle, less paper for you to deal with!
Before conducting a full query, an employer, or their C/TPA, must obtain the driver’s specific consent. This includes all pre-employment queries. This specific consent must be obtained electronically in the Clearinghouse. A driver must be registered and logged in to the Clearinghouse to respond to a consent request for a full query.
DOTReady also has Driver Processing services that take an applicant to a fully qualified driver. We perform all of the required screening as well as some additional “Best Practice” steps to ensure you are hiring only the safest and most qualified drivers!
What happens if a driver does not consent to a query?
If a driver does not consent to the query, it means the employer (or C/TPA) requesting the consent cannot access that driver’s Clearinghouse record. This also means the employer (or C/TPA) cannot verify that the driver does not have an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation in their Clearinghouse record.
Therefore, by refusing to consent to an employer’s query consent request, a driver is prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, including operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), for that employer. Refusing consent to one employer does not affect a driver’s eligibility for performing safety-sensitive functions for other employers.
Again, don't forget to do this by January 6, 2021
In case you forgot – Per § 382.701, employers of CDL drivers must conduct a query in the Clearinghouse at least once per year for each CDL driver they employ. You should be able to achieve this by following the links I have provided throughout the blog. If you have any questions, or you would like to chat about the Clearinghouse or any other services we may provide, book some time with me.
The bottom line is, this really is about safety and frankly, I am pretty excited that the FMCSA finally put something like this in place. I would have been okay without the major fines if it isn’t done, but I love being able to check this history. Hopefully, you will see the benefits of this as well!
Again, Don’t forget to conduct your queries before January 6, 2021!