90% of drivers seeking jobs fail to register in Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (with video)

Drug and alcohol clearinghouse

Despite calls urging truck drivers to register in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse database, over 90% of drivers applying for jobs have not done so, said Jeremy Reymer, founder and CEO of DriverReach, a recruiting and compliance management company.

 Reymer told attendees at the Katz, Sapper & Miller 2020 Trucking Owners and Leaders Roundtable on Feb. 4 in Indianapolis that more than 3,000 failed drug and alcohol test results have been recorded in the database in the first 30 days of operation. The site went live Jan. 6.

“That is good news because now we
are aware of them and previously they were going undetected,” he said.

While drivers are not required to
register, carriers can be put in a tough spot where they are not allowed to
pressure drivers to register, but without drivers registering and providing
consent, carriers may not be able to meet legal requirements. Reymer noted that
a carrier must do a “limited query” of its drivers in the database at least
once a year. A limited query will only tell the carrier that a driver has
something in their file. To get the full results, a full query must be
conducted, and that requires the driver’s consent.

The flip side is that even though
drivers are not required to register, carriers are unable to hire one until
they provide full consent for a query, which can only be accomplished by

“At the end of the day, if [the
driver] won’t register, I can’t hire them,” Reymer said. “At the time the
driver is applying, that is the time to find out if they are registered and if
not, get them a link and start that process.”

Registering is not a simple task,
Reymer added, but from a carrier’s perspective, there is benefit in terms of
compliance to having drivers register and for fleets to obtain consent for full

“At the very least you are going to
have to run a limited query at least once a year,” Reymer said. “The cost of
not being compliant is significant. It is not more than $2,500 per incident, so
if you are a 1,000-truck fleet” that could be $2.5 million in penalties.

Reymer said he has heard of some
fleets trying to discourage drivers from registering.

“There is a tactic to not get your existing drivers to register because that makes it easier for them to get hired [by another carrier,” he said.

Reymer said he remains supportive
of the clearinghouse, but he tried to leave attendees with some practical
advice in managing the process, in particular the driver recruiting and hiring
process. He pointed to the clearinghouse rule’s 30-day lookback provision,
which fleets can benefit from.

“If you do a full query on a driver
and it’s clean, and you hire the driver, if something [then] shows up within 30
days going forward, the carrier will be notified,” Reymer said.

A common issue facing carriers in
the onboarding process is discrepancies in license numbers. The commercial
driver’s license (CDL) number the driver inputs must match exactly the number
the carrier inputs to conduct the query. Also, if drivers haven’t registered
and provided consent, the process is slowed because FMCSA mail a letter to the
address of the CDL holder asking them to register. Once the driver is registered,
a link to provide consent will be emailed. Owner-operators running under their
own authority must register as both a driver and owner, while those operating
under a carrier’s authority only need to register as a driver.

Reymer suggested carriers update
their recruiting materials and provide information and links to the
registration process from the beginning. Including a driver consent form can
also speed the process.

“I have been an advocate for the
clearinghouse since I got into the industry [in 2004-05],” he said. “We want
safer roads; we want people who should be off the roads off the roads, or at
least put them through a process [to determine their safety].”