Trucking companies and owner operators will have two pricing options for tapping into the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse to check on drivers for drug or alcohol violations.
Employers can either pay a flat per-query rate of $1.25 for both limited and full queries, or one annual payment $24,500 for an unlimited number of queries, the agency announced on August 20.
The $1.25 plan can be customized into 19 different bundles ranging from 1 to 7,500 different queries depending on the size of the company, with bundled pricing ranging from $1.25 to $9,375. The agency recommended choosing a query bundle large enough to cover the number of drivers currently employed. Companies can purchase additional plans as needed.
FMCSA emphasized that the two options can only be purchased from the FMCSA Clearinghouse website (https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov) and will be available for purchase starting in the fall. The fees will be used to maintain and administer the clearinghouse database.
The Clearinghouse final rule, which goes into effect on January 6, 2020, requires that employers conduct queries as part of any pre-employment driver investigation, and must be done at least annually for every driver holding a commercial drivers license (CDL) who is currently employed. All queries require driver consent.
“All employers of CDL drivers must purchase a query plan in the clearinghouse,” FMCSA said. “This query plan enables employers, and their consortia/third-party administrators to conduct queries of driver clearinghouse records.”
Queries are designated as either limited or full. Limited queries check for the presence of information in the queried driver’s clearinghouse record. Full queries will disclose detailed information about any drug or alcohol violation – resolved or unresolved – in a driver’s clearinghouse record.
FMCSA pointed out that employers are required to purchase a query plan to ensure they and their designated third party can conduct queries, and that third-party administrators will not be able to purchase queries on behalf of employers. It also noted that all owner-operators are required to work with a third party to manage a drug and alcohol testing program.