Independent owner-operators and small fleets must have logged at least one check of their drivers in the U.S DOT’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse by Jan. 5, 2021, or face fines of up to $2,500 if their non-compliance is found out in a safety audit or compliance review. For single-truck independents, that means performing a so-called limited query of their own CDL number within the clearinghouse.
What exactly does that process look like? Thanks to independent owner-operator Debra Desiderato of Walkabout Transport, we have a window into each step. Desiderato was one of a few operators who pinged Overdrive with questions last week, and she agreed to document her own walk through the clearinghouse portal.
“The hardest part was logging in,” she said. Desiderato registered in the clearinghouse over a year ago (registration began in September 2019) and had forgotten her login and password information. Once she retrieved it and got in, “it was pretty simple really.”
Owner-operators who haven’t registered will need to go to clearinghouse.dot.gov and create an account. Independent owner-operators are prompted to register with dual accounts — one as an employer and one as a driver. Small fleet owners who have a CDL and drive for their fleet, even if only occasionally, will need to do the same.
Once registration is complete, here’s what the self-check process looks like, as photographed by Desiderato:
Step 1: Log in
Once you log in to the employer side of your account, select “conduct query” in the top right of the screen:
Step 2: Buy queries
Owner-operators will need to buy just a single query for running their self-check. For small fleets that employ drivers, they’ll need to buy a query for each driver. So, for example, an owner-operator who employs two drivers would need to buy three queries total. Queries are $1.25 each. As Desiderato documents, payments can be made in a few different ways:
Step 3: Start the query and request consent
After Desiderato completed the query purchase, she again clicked the “conduct query” button, noted below with the red arrow. Then, she had to enter her driver information — name, birth date, CDL number. After submitting that information, you’ll choose the type of query. In this case, for the required annual query, operators will select a limited query, as Desiderato did here. The system will then send an email to drivers for consent. If you’re an owner-operator doing a self-check, that email will be sent to you.
Step 4: Consent and run the query
After accepting consent via the email she received from the system, Desiderato followed the prompts from within her employer account to run the self-check query. The system ultimately popped up with a green check mark signaling her profile was clear of any drug or alcohol violations. “I discovered I wasn’t on drugs and it was amazing,” she quipped.