“The first annual DOT Clearinghouse deadline is only a few weeks away, with annual queries for all DOT-regulated drivers due by January 5, 2021. If you haven’t yet run a query on each CDL driver you employ, (including yourself if you’re an owner operator) you must do so by this date.
Failure to run these annual queries could lead to fines of up to $2,500 per driver.
The latest FMCSA Clearinghouse data suggests that there are still many employers and drivers who haven’t yet registered for the Clearinghouse, which could create a demand similar to the one we saw earlier this year when the system became overwhelmed by the large volume of traffic trying to register and login to the site. If this occurs in the weeks leading up to the deadline, as projected, it could make it difficult for employers to meet their requirements before the deadline.
Our suggestion? Take care of this requirement now before the surge occurs.
About the Annual Clearinghouse Query
Starting this year, employers must run at least one Clearinghouse query on each of their CDL drivers annually, with the first query due by the first anniversary date of the Clearinghouse. You have the option of running either a full or a limited query, but if a limited query shows that there is information on a driver’s record, you will be required to run a full query within 24 hours. Failure to do so will result in the driver being pulled from safety-sensitive functions until you’re able to run the full query.
Required First Steps
#1: Employer Registration
Before you’re able to run an annual DOT Clearinghouse query on your drivers, you must set up an account first. The FMCSA required drivers to register before the January 5, 2020 deadline, but the most recent reports indicate that upwards of 80 percent of employers still aren’t registered. Without an account, you can’t run queries on your drivers – you also can’t report drug and alcohol violations when they occur.
#2: Driver Registration
Not only does having a Clearinghouse account enable drivers to check their accounts for inaccuracies, but it enables them to give consent before an employer runs a full query of their Clearinghouse record. Because a full query shows all of the details of a driver’s record, the driver is required to give consent within the Clearinghouse before a full query is run. Because an employer only has 24 hours from the time a limited query shows a “hit” on a driver’s record, until the time they run a full query, it’s important that drivers have their account set up in advance.
#3: Limited Consent Form
Although consent for full queries must be obtained each time an employer runs a full query in the Clearinghouse, a blanket consent form is all that is needed for limited queries. Employers should provide all CDL drivers with a limited consent form which gives them permission to run an unlimited number of limited queries for the duration of their employment. Employers must keep a signed consent form on file for each driver they employ.
#4: Recordkeeping System
Employers must have signed consent forms on file for each driver, as well as a record of all queries that they’ve run throughout each driver’s employment. These records will be critical during an audit, and should be stored digitally to both accommodate remote workers and ensure you’re ready for an offsite audit.”
At East Coast Risk Management, we understand fulfilling the steps of the annual query process can be difficult. If you have any questions about getting start or want to learn more about our DOT Compliance programs, please call our DOT Helpline at 1-833-888-0211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This excerpt was taken from a blog article written by Lindsey Bergeron of FOLEY Services.