Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse 2021

Firetruck Mirror

Statistics & Updated Information from a Busy First Year in Operation

The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a secure online database that gives employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies (SDLAs), and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations. To learn more about the Clearinghouse, visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

The FMCSA’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse has been up and running for a little over a year now.  The following are some interesting statistics for the first year of operation:

Approximately 1.6 million drivers and 197,000 employers registered in the Clearinghouse in 2020.  For more detailed statistics, check out the FMCSA December 2020 Monthly Summary Report that summarizes information recorded since the Clearinghouse went into effect January 6, 2020.

Queries Since Jan. 6, 2020 –

TypeNumber of Queries
Full Pre-Employment1,429,842
Full, Not Pre-Employment136,806

Reported Violations Since Jan. 6, 2020 –

Drug ViolationsNumber Reported
Actual Knowledge of a Violation1,330
Refusals to Test7,803

(Out of the positive drug tests reported, the drug of choice was marijuana with 29,511 positive test results and cocaine a distant second with 7,940 positive tests.)

Alcohol ViolationsNumber Reported
Actual Knowledge of a Violation177
Refusals to Test287
BAC of .04 or Higher739

Return-to-Duty Process –

As of Jan. 1, 2021, almost 52,000 drivers had at least one violation entered in the Clearinghouse.  Of those total drivers:

  • 45,475 currently remain in a prohibited status, and
  • 6,513 were no longer in a prohibited status. None of them have completed their follow up testing plan.

The Clearinghouse reports 34,769 of the 45,475 drivers in a prohibited status have yet to start the return-to-duty process.

Confusion on Queries?

What is a query?  A query is an electronic check in the Clearinghouse, conducted by an employer or their designated Consortia/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) to determine if current or prospective employees are prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions, like operating a CMV due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.  There are two types of queries:

Limited Queries – these satisfy the annual query requirement.

Full Queries – these include all pre-employment queries.

All queries do require driver consent.  The type of consent depends on the query type.  Learn more about queries and consent requests by visiting the following website – https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Query/Plan

What are the Civil Penalties for Violations of the Clearinghouse?

The DOT issued a final rule on Jan.11, 2021 that implements the authority of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to assess civil penalties for violations of the Clearinghouse, at 49 CFR part 382 subpart G of the code of federal regulations.  “Any employer, employee, medical review officer, or service agent who violates any provision of 49 CFR part 382, subpart G … is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,833,” the rule states.

This penalty amount is more than double the $2,500 per violation that was outlined in much of the guidance issued by nongovernment entities in both the lead-up and implementation of the Clearinghouse over the past two years. One example of a violation of a provision would be an employer accessing a driver’s record from the database without getting the proper written or electronic consent from the driver.

What are Some Other Helpful Resources Regarding the Clearinghouse?

The Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Learning Center is a great resource designed to help you stay compliant with the requirements of the Clearinghouse rule.  Three important areas to help you are the external links, resources, and email updates.

Click the following link to take you to the Learning Center – https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Learn

The Clearinghouse has put together and updated a number of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are helpful, so you can access them for more valuable information at – https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/FAQ

Fleetworthy Solutions currently offers a service to fulfill the day-to-day activities required to comply with the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse mandate.  For more information, visit /solutions/our-services/drug-and-alcohol-clearinghouse-management/


“CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Stats From 2020”, Megan Reynolds, Feb. 10, 2021, Cumberland.

“Drug/Alcohol Fines Set at $5,833 Per Violation”, John Gallagher, Jan.12, 2021, FreightWaves.