Trucking companies must comply with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules and regulations. As of January 6, 2023, this includes updates to pre-employment procedures. In particular, motor carriers must now query the FMCSA Clearinghouse to satisfy pre-employment inquiry requirements.
Why Have These Regulations Changed?
Motor carriers have a duty to ensure that safety-sensitive employees (e.g. drivers) they hire are compliant with drug and alcohol testing requirements. To do this, potential employers need to check for previous violations. FMCSA regulations require this check to cover three years of records.
Prior to January 6, 2023, there were not three years of data stored in the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse system, which is a database of drug and alcohol violations that makes it easier to track violations. This meant motor carriers had to conduct manual queries as well as those in the Clearinghouse to cover the entire three-year period. Since there is now enough data in the system, Clearinghouse queries only are required, and queries must be conducted in the Clearinghouse to satisfy the requirements.
How Can Motor Carriers Stay Compliant?
The FMCSA has clarified that as of January 6, 2023, prospective employers are required to conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse for prospective safety-sensitive employees. Section 382.701(a) of the federal regulations outlines how these queries must be conducted. If a query does not meet these conditions, it does not satisfy FMCSA requirements and the motor carrier will not be in compliance with the newest regulations.
Under Section 382.701(a), potential employers must conduct a pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse to verify whether a potential driver has any of the following on record before this driver may begin safety-sensitive duties (e.g. driving):
- Any verified positive, substituted, or adulterated controlled substance test results
- An alcohol test with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04 or greater
- A refusal to test
- A report from an employer of actual knowledge that the driver used a drugs or alcohol in violation of FMCSA regulations
In order to satisfy requirements, employers must conduct a full query in order to release the above information in the Clearinghouse. Individual drivers must give consent to allow this query to occur.
What About Non-FMCSA Employers?
Some drivers have previously been employed by companies that fall under the jurisdiction of Department Of Transportation (DOT) agencies besides the FMCSA. Examples include the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, and Federal Transit Administration. Employers regulated by these agencies do not report drug and alcohol violations to the Clearinghouse, so prospective employers will need to request this information directly to satisfy necessary pre-employment requirements.
We Can Help You Stay Compliant
It’s essential to stay up to date with the most recent regulations from the FMCSA. This helps keep your drivers, freight, and others on the road safe and also helps you avoid fines and other penalties for violations. However, it can be overwhelming to keep up with these requirements. HDS Safety Services can help. We help our clients stay compliant and assist with pre-employment checks, drug and alcohol testing programs, and much more.