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December 2019: More Clearinghouse Answers

My e-mail last week spurred a few questions that I believe would be of interest to you.

Our EAP has a network of SAPs across the U.S.  Should we be doing anything about our network as it pertains to the Clearinghouse?

Yes, absolutely.  EAPs and brokers should be sending notices to all their SAPs, asking if they are registered on the Clearinghouse, and if they aren’t, instructing them to do so immediately.  You should also request that they report back to you when they have registered.  Your internal records should indicate whether a SAP is registered.  After January 6, an EAP should send FMCSA drivers only to SAPs that they know are registered on the Clearinghouse.  Start collecting that information now, so you will be able to seamlessly slide into the Clearinghouse regulation.  Don’t send an FMCSA driver to a SAP unless you are certain that the SAP is registered.

I haven’t registered.  Where do I go to do that?

https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/Register

Go to Clearinghouse Registration

I read that it’s not mandatory for employers to register on the Clearinghouse?  Isn’t that a loophole?

It’s correct that it’s not mandatory to register.  But here’s the nuance.  Each FMCSA employer must query all of its drivers at least once a year.  FMCSA employers have a unique DOT # for their company, and FMCSA will be able to tell each time an employer has accessed the Clearinghouse.  FMCSA will be able to know, at the end of a year, which companies have never accessed the Clearinghouse, and which companies have never even registered on the Clearinghouse.  It’s my guess that employers who have not been testing their drivers (yes, there are employers who don’t have a testing policy or program) will find themselves being visited by DOT enforcement.  Another loophole closed.

Can a driver register a complaint about a SAP's action on the Clearinghouse?

FMCSA has listed two reasons that a driver can register a complaint against a SAP.  1) When a SAP does not record information to the Clearinghouse within the required timeframe;  2) When a SAP is unable to enter information on the Clearinghouse.  (It could be because the SAP hasn’t registered, and therefore can’t get into the driver’s record, or because the invitation was extended by the driver, and the SAP didn’t properly accept the invitation on the driver’s record.)

Drivers of city transit buses hold a CDL.  Will their violations be on the Clearinghouse? 

No.  City bus drivers are FTA employees (Federal Transit Administration), and the Clearinghouse is only for FMCSA drivers.

I work only for a railroad.  Do I need to register on the Clearinghouse?

Yes.  Most railroads, especially the big ones, also have FMCSA drivers who drive Commercial Motor Vehicles.  If an FMCSA driver, employed by the railroad, has a violation, that violation will be recorded on the Clearinghouse, and in order to provide SAP services, you will have to be registered.

Our EAP works with a lot of employers who have CDL drivers.  Should we be asking those client companies if they have registered on the Clearinghouse, or if they even know about it?

Yes.  Your responsibility as a consultant to employers is to inform and educate them about the regulations.  Don’t assume they know about the Clearinghouse.  Every FMCSA employer must be registered on the Clearinghouse, and each of their CDL drivers who are subject to testing under 49 CFR Part 382 must be registered as well.

Is there a fee to register on the Clearinghouse?

No.  There is no fee for employers and drivers and service agents to register.  However, employers must pay a fee of $1.25 each time they query the Clearinghouse about a driver.  An employer is required to query the Clearinghouse about each of his drivers at least once a year.  If he has 10 drivers, that will cost him $12.50.  An employer is also required to query the Clearinghouse each time he hires a new driver.  If he hires 3 drivers in that year, those new driver queries will cost $3.75.
With about 6 million drivers nationwide, revenue for FMCSA from annual queries will be about $8 million, to help cover the cost of running and staffing the Clearinghouse and its IT structure.  In addition, FMCSA will receive revenue each time a prospective employer queries an applicant’s record.

Will I be able to look at a driver’s record to find out if there have been previous violations?

From what I have seen, the only information that you will see on a record will be about the current violation.  However, the screen does indicate what kind of test was conducted.  If a driver has a positive test result on a follow-up test, you will know that the driver has had a previous violation.  And from what SAPs tell me, many of the violations are positive follow-up tests.

SAPlist UREMINDER: SAPlist U For Your Continuing Ed Requirement

SAPlist U provides 12 hours of continuing education related to DOT's testing rules.  It is endorsed by EACC, NASW, and NBCC.  It’s online, convenient, and you can complete it at your own pace.

Go to SAPlist U Continuing Ed
Until next time,

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Lee Mauk  |  SAPlist.com and SAPlist U
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