FMCSA gives troubleshooting advice for Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

Carriers getting hung up trying to verify background checks in the federal Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse may have to resubmit their requests but will not be charged against their query plan balance, according to new troubleshooting advice from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The clearinghouse went through a rough start due to system overload and other technical issues.

Employers hiring new drivers have been required since Jan. 6 to conduct pre-employment queries into the clearinghouse, at a flat rate of $1.25 per query, with customized bundle plans available. Before conducting a pre-employment query, however, employers must obtain the driver’s electronic consent.

In an alert published Friday, the FMCSA acknowledged that some queries are not getting verified based on the driver’s commercial drivers license (CDL) information transmitted by an employer.

“The Clearinghouse checks the CDL information you entered with the States’ CDL systems, which tracks driver CDLs nationwide,” according to the FMCSA alert. “If the information you entered does not verify, make sure you have entered the driver’s CDL information correctly. If the CDL number has special characters (such as spaces, dashes, or leading zeros), try entering the CDL number with or without these characters, as requirements vary by state.”

In other cases, according to the FMCSA, while employers are able to submit a consent request, the driver who is the subject of that request may not be able to see it in his or her registration dashboard.

The agency advised that in those cases, employers should first make sure the driver has a verified CDL in their clearinghouse profile. “Have the driver log in to his or her clearinghouse account. If the driver has not verified his or her CDL information, there will be a message on his or her Driver Dashboard with next steps prompting him or her to do so. Once the driver has verified their CDL, the pending consent request should display on their Driver Dashboard.”

If an employer is able to confirm that the driver has verified his or her CDL information in the clearinghouse but still does not see the pending consent request, “try sending a new consent request (you can cancel the pending consent request, which will credit your query balance),” FMCSA said. “This time, when you enter the CDL information, enter it exactly as the driver entered it in the Clearinghouse, including all zeroes, dashes, special characters, etc.”

The FMCSA advised contacting the agency if employers still encounter these or other issues. It has also updated its learning center with additional instructions.