Recently FMCSA highlighted upcoming changes effective 1/6/23…involving the FMCSA CLEARINGHOUSE (CH) requirements. Specifically, beginning 1/6/23 motor carriers must not manually check with previous employers and must utilize only the CH to obtain violations of drug and alcohol testing regulations within the previous three years. While this is not a new requirement, the notice has caused some confusion with the requirements for investigations and inquiries that are also required by regulation.

As a reminder, when the CH rule took effect on 1/6/20…motor carriers were informed that the database would only contain drug and alcohol violations that occurred on or after 1/6/20. As a result, motor carriers were required to continue to check with previous employers until 1/6/23 (in addition to performing pre-employment queries in the CH) to determine violations of drug and alcohol regulations in addition to performing other required investigations and inquires.

Because the CH will have three years of violation data as of 1/6/23, motor carriers will no longer have to check with previous employers for drug and alcohol violations, and must utilize only the CH for this information to ensure the driver is not prohibited from driving.

This does not eliminate the requirements in Part 391.23 to continue to perform Investigation and Inquires for new drivers as follows:

  • An MVR check in each state the driver held a license in the preceding 3 years.
  • An investigation into the safety performance history with DOT regulated employers that applicant worked for within the preceding 3 years.
  • Verification of general driver identification and employment.
  • Accidents as defined by Part 390.5
  • Non-Reportable accidents information if retained by previous employer based on internal policies.
  • Drug and Alcohol violations from previous DOT regulated employers not covered by the FMCSA CH regulations (FTA, FRA, FAA, COAST GUARD).
  • A note to file indicating no investigative inquires possible if driver did not work for DOT regulated employer within preceding 3 years.

Aside from the CH query and MVR check, motor carrier may conduct the investigation of safety performance history by email, phone, fax, in person, or by any other appropriate method as determined by the motor carrier and must record and keep records of the information as required by regulation.

FMCSA requires motor carriers to respond to investigations and inquires when signed consent of the driver is provided, and encourages motor carriers to report previous employers who fail to respond to requests during the hiring process.

Documentation of the investigation and inquires must be gathered within 30 days of employment and retained in DQ Files. Drivers have due process rights to correct inaccurate safety performance history data.

Finally, new CDL drivers must not begin driving until they have a negative pre-employment test on file and have been verified as “not prohibited” in the CH with a “pre-employment” query.

As always, feel free to give Tim or Randy a call at MMTA (207-623-4128) should you have compliance questions.