News Alert

FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Experiencing 'Technical Difficulties'

January 8, 2020

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse is off to a rough start as a flood of new users crashed the website and made it difficult for employers to complete the newly required background checks.

The Clearinghouse, a database containing information on commercial driver license (CDL) holders’ drug and alcohol violations, went live on Monday, January 6, 2020, and has displayed error messages and experienced sluggish loading times. Carriers, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement officials use the Clearinghouse to check a CDL holder’s drug and alcohol violations.

However, a large influx of users accessing the Clearinghouse website earlier this week have resulted in several intermittent site crashes, making it difficult for carriers to comply with the new regulations. On Tuesday, the FMCSA acknowledged the website issues and granted employers a temporary reprieve from the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements.

The notice on the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse website reads:

Notice: If you are an employer currently experiencing technical difficulties accessing the Clearinghouse and are unable to conduct required pre-employment queries, you may hire a driver using solely the procedures set forth in 49 CFR 391.23(e). Once FMCSA has determined and announced that users are able to access the Clearinghouse, pre-employment queries must also be conducted as required by section 382.701(a).

It isn't clear how long the website issues could continue but this isn't the only issue that users have been experiencing. The FMCSA has also scrapped the registration requirement to link a motor carrier's FMCSA Portal account to their Clearinghouse registration. Employers have been experiencing issues with the Clearinghouse registration linking with their FMCSA Portal accounts since Clearinghouse registration was made available in October 2019. Employers registering for the Clearinghouse are now prohibited from linking their FMCSA Portal account, or USDOT number, to their new Clearinghouse account.

The following message is displayed when attempting to link the accounts:

We are currently experiencing an issue linking Portal accounts with Clearinghouse accounts. You may proceed with your Clearinghouse registration without completing this step. You will be able to link your accounts at a later date, after your registration is complete.

Drivers attempting to register for the Clearinghouse are also experiencing issues. The Clearinghouse requires that a driver's commercial driver's license (CDL) is verified prior to allowing them to provide "electronic consent" for Clearinghouse queries. Some drivers have reported that the Clearinghouse is providing a message that their CDL cannot be verified, and that the driver should contact the their State Driver's License Agency (SDLA). If a driver cannot provide "electronic consent" then a prospective employer cannot run the pre-employment query of the Clearinghouse as required.