Clearinghouse soon to be sole means of investigating FMCSA testing violations

Kathy Close, Editor - Transport Safety

October 24, 2022



The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is removing the drug and alcohol history questions from the safety performance history inquiries effective January 6, 2023. The only means of learning of violations occurring under FMCSA testing (Part 382) is a query of the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH).


The database will contain records relating to FMCSA testing violations occurring since its launch three years prior. Clearinghouse queries, unlike the safety performance history records request, must be completed before the individual drives for you. Consent for the pre-employment query is provided through the driver’s personal Clearinghouse account.


What about other modes?


Motor carriers must continue to ask DOT drug and alcohol questions of former employers where the driver was subject to Part 40 testing under another mode (air, pipeline, transit, maritime, rail). This information is pertinent and must be investigated since a violation under another mode carries over to highway (FMCSA). The driver must provide specific written consent before the former employer may respond.


How do carriers request copies of testing records?


If the motor carrier learns that a driver has a DOT testing violation (under any mode) and did not complete the return-to-duty and/or follow-up program, the motor carrier must contact the former employer to determine where the process left off. This may involve requesting copies of records, such as the substance abuse professional (SAP) follow-up testing plan, completed follow-up tests, and the like. Of course, the driver must provide specific written consent for the release of such records. This has always been the case and continues going forward.


What happens to the safety performance history inquiry?


Motor carriers will continue to obtain the following information via a safety performance history inquiry from FMCSA-regulated employers where the driver worked in the past three years:


  • General employment data (e.g., verification that the employee worked there, dates of employment, etc.);
  • A copy of the company’s accident register (390.15) for any FMCSA-recordable accidents involving the driver; and
  • Information about any other vehicle crashes or incidents that the employer may wish to share.

Are you ready for the switch?


Between now and January 6, 2023, motor carriers must make sure they are ready for the change to the safety performance history investigation.

Those who vet drivers at the motor carrier need to know:


  • The effective date of the rule (January 6),
  • Process changes when collecting the drug and alcohol history, and
  • Required data elements remaining on the safety performance history form.

If the motor carrier uses a third party to help assemble the driver qualification file and/or manage the drug and alcohol program, the carrier must ensure the service agent is aware of the new requirements.


To learn more about how J. J. Keller can help you with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse (DACH), contact us today at 888.473.4638 or fill out the form below. 


You may also be interested in:

What is a Return-to-Duty Test?

How to Request a Clearinghouse Query

Clearinghouse FAQs for Owner Operators


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