John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent January 22, 2020
rucking companies onboarding new drivers are no longer eligible for temporary relief from conducting queries within the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse now that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has resolved the system’s technical problems.
Pre-employment queries became a federal requirement for carriers as of Jan. 6, when the clearinghouse opened for conducting such checks. However, the system began crashing shortly before it opened for queries due to a flood of registrations and query requests. While the FMCSA worked to correct the problem, employers had been allowed to hire drivers through manual background checks alone.
“For employers or drivers who, due to extremely high traffic volume, experienced issues last week registering or conducting queries, those issues have been addressed,” the FMCSA posted in an alert today. “To ensure compliance, please retry completing those actions at this time.”
The agency reminded employers that they or their designated consortia/third-party administrators (C/TPAs) must now conduct queries (with driver consent) for all prospective commercial drivers and annually for all drivers currently employed. Employers must be registered prior to hiring a new driver and before they can complete the annual queries. Only drivers seeking new employment must be registered.
FMCSA also emphasized that employers or their C/TPAs and medical review officers must now report drug and alcohol violations into the clearinghouse.