The Most Common DOT Clearinghouse Violation – and How to Avoid it
The DOT Clearinghouse has been creating headaches for carriers since the regulation went into effect. But there’s one area of the regulation that is proving to be particularly problematic – and is resulting in more violations than any other aspect of the Clearinghouse.
The requirement we’re talking about is the pre-employment query.
As a refresher, the regulation states that motor carriers must run a full, pre-employment Clearinghouse query on each new safety-sensitive driver they employ. Carriers are required to obtain the results of the query – and verify that the driver has no prohibitions in the Clearinghouse – prior to allowing them to operate a commercial motor vehicle.
The consequences of not having this full query on file for each new driver can be severe. In fact, it’s as severe as the consequences of putting a driver behind the wheel before you have a negative drug test result on file. Both are considered acute violations by the FMCSA – which can quickly put you on the dangerous path towards a conditional rating.
This full query will reveal any information about the driver’s drug and/or alcohol violations that have occurred since the DOT Clearinghouse went into effect.
Electronic Consent is Required
Unlike the limited Clearinghouse queries that drivers can consent to with a written signature, drivers are required to provide electronic consent in the DOT Clearinghouse each time a motor carrier intends to run a full query of their record.
This can create a small roadblock, as it means that the driver must have a Clearinghouse account set up in advance. If they don’t have an account yet – or experience any complications during the registration process that create delays – this can have a significant impact on your ability to get that driver hired and onboarded quickly. And in some cases, can delay the process indefinitely.
To prevent this from happening, and ensure that you’re not wasting valuable time onboarding a driver whose Clearinghouse record ultimately shows that they’re in prohibited status, it’s important that you make the Clearinghouse query requirement an integral part of your pre-hire process – right along with looking at the driver’s initial motor vehicle report.
By getting ahead of this requirement, you not only give drivers time to register in the Clearinghouse and provide consent, but you’ll find out early whether the driver has prohibitions that will prevent them from driving a commercial motor vehicle for your company.
During this time, you’ll also want to have them sign a blanket consent form, which will allow you to run the required limited queries at least once every 12 months for the duration of their employment. You’ll need to keep this document on file with the driver qualification file so that it can be easily referenced during an audit.
First, go back and verify that you have that full, pre-employment query on file for every driver you’ve hired since the regulation went into effect. If for some reason you don’t have the required query on file, run that full query now. While we can’t guarantee that it will protect you fully from a violation, recognizing your mistake and having proof that you took steps to correct it, can go a long way in showing that you’re a safe motor carrier that takes its compliance requirements seriously.
Next, integrate that pre-employment Clearinghouse query into the pre-hire process immediately. If you run into issues with drivers who don’t know how to complete the registration process, we have resources that can help.
Lastly, consider a fully-automated solution that will manage all of your query requirements and help keep you compliant. At Foley, our platform runs all of your required queries, maintains proof of consent and alerts you immediately when important information is discovered that requires your review.
To learn more and schedule your free demo, please click here.
With Foley, you can manage all of your DOT screening and compliance programs in one, easy-to-use platform. From DQF management to the DOT Clearinghouse, our software automates all of your compliance programs to help you keep the right drivers on the road.
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