How to Manage Queries Within the Clearinghouse

Posted: Jan, 13th 2022

Starting in January 2020, all employers were required to conduct queries on current and
prospective employees. Queries are an electronic search within the Clearinghouse system to
identify employees prohibited from performing safety-sensitive functions such as operating a
commercial motor vehicle due to unresolved drug or alcohol program violations. There are two
types of queries, full queries, and limited queries. There is a fee charged for the queries within
the system that must be purchased by the company directly from FMCSA Clearinghouse.

A limited query checks for the presence of information about a specific driver’s record within
the Clearinghouse, but detailed information cannot be requested without the driver’s consent.
A full query must have driver consent and obtain detailed information shared with the
prospective employer and TPA regarding any resolved or unresolved violations in a driver’s
Clearinghouse record. If limited query results in information found and a full query is requested
by the employer, then they will incur only one charge.

Reasons for a limited query may include an annual check of a currently employed driver or a
periodic check on a driver. A limited query requires consent outside of the Clearinghouse, and a
limited consent form must specify the time range. The permission must be obtained by paper
or electronically in the driver qualification file (DQF). If consent is refused, then a current driver
should be immediately removed from all safety-sensitive duties, and the query cannot be
Reasons for a full query may include a pre-employment check on a prospective driver, a
periodic check on a currently employed driver, or after a limited query search, identified
information was present for the queried driver. Consent for full queries must be completed
within the Clearinghouse site for each individual driver. If consent is refused, the employer is
notified, and the driver must be removed from all safety-sensitive functions. The query cannot
be completed.

All of the queries can be managed by a Third Party Administrator (TPA). A working owneroperator
or a self-employed CDL holder is required to work with a TPA to manage the drug and
alcohol program. The Clearinghouse regulations and managing driver files is a very timeconsuming
process. Companies are liable for demonstrating that they have run annual queries
on all drivers and prospective employees.

ITI has unique custom portals for individual companies that manage all aspects of the Driver
Qualification Files (DQF). This includes annual queries and pre-employment queries as part of
the whole program management. Within the DQF portal, authorization and consent are
collected for queries, previous three years of license history, previous three years of residences,
previous ten years work history, driving experience, and driving violations. ITI will process the
complete DQF, including the request for information from the previous three years of
employment, process the MVR (Motor Vehicle Record), PSP (Pre-employment Screening
Report), and a CBC (Criminal Background Check) if requested.

The traditional hiring process requires a driver to complete several different paper forms used
in the screening and DQF processes. The secure portal allows the driver to log in fill out all of
the required documents. ITI will take care of the management of all the forms as part of TPA
optional services. Once your company decides to hire the driver, ITII’s online application has
already been completed. The required documents are all included. Everything is electronically
signed and ready for the next steps in the hiring process.