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February 2020: Clearinghouse Questions from SAPs

When I tried to register, I was asked if I am a “credentialed SAP”.  I didn’t know what that meant, and so I backed out and I didn’t go any further.

I searched Part 40 and the "SAP Guidelines", and the term “credentialed SAP” doesn’t appear.  I understand why some of you have been confused by that, and why you were not sure about continuing the registration process.  I suspect that what the Clearinghouse meant by that is that you must have a required credential to be a SAP.  e.g., licensed or certified social worker, licensed psychologist, certified employee assistance professional, etc.  And the certification # is the # that appears on your license or certificate.
Some of you referenced Question #1 in the "SAP Guidelines".  You are correct; SAPs are not “certified, licensed or approved”.  A few organizations issue SAP certificates with a certification #.  Don’t enter that number in the Clearinghouse.  It doesn’t apply to this registration.  (You shouldn’t even be putting it on your SAP reports, e-mails, or other correspondence.)

What should I tell an employer who said that some of his drivers refuse to register?  Is that a violation?  Can they still drive a CMV if they aren’t registered on the Clearinghouse”?

It’s actually not mandatory for drivers to register.  It wouldn’t be a violation if they didn’t, and they don’t have to be removed from safety-sensitive functions.  Here is an explanation:  A driver who plans to never apply for a new job, and who never has a violation, would have no reason to be registered on the Clearinghouse. 
But… if ever the driver decides to look for a new job, he/she would have to register at that time, because the prospective employer will be required to query him/her on the Clearinghouse.  If a driver has no record on the Clearinghouse, the prospective employer couldn’t run a query, and the driver couldn’t be hired.
Some drivers think that if they don’t have a record on the Clearinghouse, it won’t be possible for them to have a violation on their record.  Wrong.  MROs and employers are required to enter every violation after January 6 and will do so by using the CDL# on the driver’s Custody/Control Form.  The driver will then have to register in order to start the SAP process, and voila! when he registers, the violation will magically pop into his record.

A driver wants me to be his SAP, but the violation isn’t showing up on his Clearinghouse record, and it’s been more than 3 days since he was notified.  The MRO's assistant told me they have been having trouble entering violation information on the Clearinghouse.  Does the driver have to wait so he can request me as his SAP?

This has been happening. Obviously, there are some kinks in the system.  But the driver shouldn’t have to wait.  I’m suggesting that you start the assessment.  You and the driver should both be watching your dashboards, to see when something finally shows up.  You’ll just have to enter the dates at that time.  (This assumes, of course, that the violation was on or after January 6, and that the driver has registered on the Clearinghouse.)
I suggest also that you document this in the driver’s file, so you can explain—if you are asked to--why you entered dates that were outside of the required timeframe of “next business day”.  FMCSA is going to have to be lenient about regulatory requirements over these first few months.

Now that the Clearinghouse is up and running, do we still have to write SAP reports?

Yes, SAP reports and your follow-up testing plans are still required.  The Clearinghouse hasn’t changed the need for SAP reports.  The required reports in 40.311 have not changed.  You must still send a SAP Initial Report to the employer when you determine the driver’s treatment plan, and later, a SAP Follow-up Evaluation Report (indicating compliance or non-compliance) after you have conducted the follow-up evaluation. 
Keep in mind:  The Clearinghouse requires the driver’s CDL#, but your SAP reports still require the driver’s SS# (not the driver’s CDL#).

An employer is required to query all his drivers annually.  How can he do that if some drivers are not registered?

All violations are reported to the Clearinghouse.  If an employer searches for one of his drivers, and a record doesn’t come up for that driver, the employer may assume that the driver has no violation.

Some employers have asked what they need to do besides register their company.  What should I tell them?

There are a few things that employers should be doing, in addition to registering their company.
  • An employer should encourage the company’s drivers to register.  If a driver says he doesn’t have access to a computer, the employer could arrange for someone in the office to help him get registered.  It’s a 5-minute process.
  • Every driver must sign a consent allowing the employer to conduct a limited query on any driver at any time.  The consent should specify the duration of the consent (e.g., for the duration of a driver’s employment).  The signed form must be kept in the driver’s file.  A driver who refuses to sign a limited consent cannot be permitted to drive a Commercial Motor Vehicle.
  • An employer must make significant changes, revisions and additions to the company’s written DOT policy.  The Clearinghouse regulation, 49 CFR Part 382, Subpart G, introduces new definitions, new procedures, new employer decisions related to unpaid time, termination, and other consequences for a driver.  Drivers need to be informed of these changes in a revised policy.
  • Every driver must be given a revised policy and must sign an acknowledgement of having received it.  The signed receipt should be kept in each driver’s drug and alcohol testing file.
  • An employer should immediately purchase, from FMCSA’s website, a Query Plan.  The cost of a single query, $1.25, is deducted electronically from the employer’s plan each time the employer makes a query.  A company’s Query Plan can be purchased only by that company.  A C/TPA or other third-party is not permitted to purchase a Query Plan on behalf of the employer.  If an employer wants to hire a new driver next week, he will have to run a full query on that driver.  But in order to run a query, his company needs a Query Plan.

Update Training in Las Vegas

If you plan to attend the training in Las Vegas, February 14-15, EAPA needs a final count by Thursday this week so that manuals can be printed and shipped.  This is the very best update training that you can find, and it will include discussion about the Clearinghouse.

Go to to register.
Go to EAPA SAP Training Registration

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,

Lee Mauk signature

Lee Mauk  | and SAPlist U
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