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The DOT Clearinghouse Pre-Employment Query Requirement

By January 29, 2021News

Industry Update:

If you’ve hired CDL drivers since the DOT Clearinghouse went into effect in January 2020, it’s not the only query requirement you need to meet. Each of these drivers also needs to have a pre-employment query on file.

The Regulation 

According to the FMCSA, employers:

  • Must run a pre-employment query on all new CDL drivers before they get behind the wheel.
    • This is to make sure that the drivers don’t have any drug and alcohol related violations that would make them ineligible to operating a commercial motor vehicle.
  • Are required to keep a record of these queries on file.
    • These files may be asked for during an audit.

The Annual Query v. The Pre-Employment Query

  • “The annual query is a limited query that shows if any information on a driver exists within the Clearinghouse.”
  • “The pre-employment query is a full Clearinghouse query that shows the full details of a driver’s record – including all drug and alcohol violations and whether or not they’ve gone through the return-to-duty process. This query requires drivers to give electronic consent before you’re able to run it.”

Note: The annual query ran on CDL drivers to satisfy the annual requirement does not also meet the pre-employment query requirement. This is due to the fact that the limited consent form used to run the annual query does not suffice. 

Driver Responsibility 

Driver’s are responsible for:

  • Creating a Clearinghouse account, and
  • Accepting their employer’s electronic query request in a timely manner.

Didn’t Meet The Requirement?

If you haven’t yet run a pre-employment Clearinghouse query on every new driver you’ve hired in the past year, you’ll need to get those completed as soon as possible or else you’ll be leaving yourself vulnerable to approximately $5,833 per violation if these queries aren’t on file.

At East Coast Risk Management, we understand that staying in compliance can be difficult. If you have any questions about this topic or want to learn more about our DOT Compliance programs, please call our DOT Helpline at 1-833-888-0211 or email

This excerpt was taken from a blog article written by Lindsey Bergeron of FOLEY Services.