CDL Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse – What You Need to Know

CDL holders can now register for the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. To register as a CDL holder, employer, substance abuse professional, or medical review officer, you can visit to create an online account.

The Clearinghouse gives the FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies, law enforcement, and commercial motor vehicle employers a secure way to investigate CDL drivers who have previously been violated federal drug or alcohol testing programs.

As of January 6th, 2020, employers are required to check with the clearinghouse to ensure the potential driver has not been banned from using their CDL. Each driver will need to register with the clearinghouse and provide online permission to be reviewed from an employer along with their current driving record.

However, commercial drivers do not have to register right away with the clearinghouse unless you are actively seeking employment. To remove incorrect information or to revise any information, the driver must first register with the clearinghouse.

How the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Impacts Owner-Operators

Starting January 6,2020 owner-operators will need to work with a Consortia/Third-Party Administrator (C/TPA) to meet the below requirements:

  • Provide any information regarding drug and alcohol violations. Owner-operators would need to provide this information if their test results were higher than a .04. Also, any refusal to complete a drug or alcohol test will need to be reported and will be considered a violation.
  • Report any negative Return to Duty (RTD) test results and if the driver has completed a follow-up test.
  • C/TPAs or Owner-Operators should report if drivers who work under them have failed a drug or alcohol test.
  • Information should be reported within three business days after the test was performed.
  • Tests are often done to check if a potential driver has been banned from performing specific safety procedures. These procedures can include operating a commercial motor vehicle because of a violation related to drugs and alcohol.
  • All current owner-operators are required to be tested at least once a year. These tests require the owner-operator’s permission and should be completed by the owner-operator or a C/TPA.
  • Before January 6, 2023, owner-operators or a C/TPA should keep track of all tests within the Clearinghouse and a manual record. Manual records show previous employers’ investigations against the driver in question.

Accessing the Clearinghouse

Registration for the clearinghouse is required before you can access all its benefits that are applied on January 6th. All authorized users, such as those below, must first register before viewing the clearinghouse database.

  • CDL drivers or Commercial Learner’s Permit holders.
  • Consortia/Third-party Administrators
  • Employers of CDL drivers. This includes owner-operators and single-drivers.
  • Medical Review Officers
  • Substance Abuse Professionals

Who Needs to Register with the Clearinghouse?

Not all CDL drivers are required to register with the clearinghouse. Instead, those who do need to register are those who wish to be a potential driver or employers who want to use the database to review a driver’s record. Employers will have the ability to review a driver’s pre-employment history beginning January 6, 2020.

For a driver to review, or change any information regarding their employment record, they must first register with the clearinghouse. Those who do choose to register before January 2020 will already have tier accounts and contact information entered for them to respond to employers.

Once you have registered with the Clearinghouse – follow the below steps:

  • Confirm all information listed on the Clearinghouse. If you already have a USDOT number, the Clearinghouse will gain this information along with contact and company information from other FMCSA databases. By registering early, you can ensure the information provided is correct and up-to-date.
  • Select a C/TPA. Owner-operators are required to work with one C/TPA minimum. As an owner-operator, you must appoint this C/TPA within the clearinghouse before they can access the database on your behalf.
  • Assign Aides. Sending invitations to employees will allow them to access the Clearinghouse database for you and allowing them to register themselves with your company.
  • Pick Out and Buy Query Plans. Before a query can be established within the Clearinghouse by you or your C/TPA, you must first pick out the plan and purchase it.

Clearinghouse Timeline


December 5, 2016 – Clearinghouse Rule Published

The final rule of the clearinghouse was put into place with the Congressional mandate. This was done to begin alcohol and drug clearinghouse and recognize different positions and responsibilities.


October 2019 – Begin Registration

Individuals can create their own accounts, register, and access the clearinghouse on January 6, 2020.

Fall 2019 – Purchase Query Plans

Employers who have registered with the clearinghouse will use their login information to buy their own


January 6, 2020 – Completion of the Clearinghouse

The required use of the clearinghouse becomes active on this date. All employers must now report any alcohol or drug-related program violations and enter these entries online in the clearinghouse database. However, entries that were done manually with other employers are still required to cover the past three years.


January 6, 2023 – Third Anniversary of the Clearinghouse

All employers are required to query the clearinghouse regarding the employer requirement for all potential drivers that have breached a drug and alcohol program.

On the FMCSA’s Clearinghouse website, you can find other information and instructions regarding the registration process. Also, find information regarding the registration process.