The Clearinghouse is still a relatively new thing in the trucking world, so there are still a lot of questions. Tow truck drivers might wonder how Clearinghouse will affect them. For starters, what part does Clearinghouse play for them? Do tow truck drivers have to register for the DOT Clearinghouse? How can they use the database? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered. We’ll explain.
Do tow truck drivers have to register for Clearinghouse?
Well, technically speaking, CDL drivers do not have to register for Clearinghouse. They’re not required to do so. But practically speaking, it’s not a bad idea to be registered anyways if you’re a tow truck driver who carries a CDL. That’s because being registered in the Clearinghouse, that’s how you provide your electronic consent if a potential or current employer needs to do a full query of your record. (And that means all pre-employment queries, so you can see why this is important.) A driver also has to be registered so they can see their own information in the Clearinghouse database.
Another perk is that registered drivers can easily respond to query requests if an employer sends one. Basically, if you’re a tow truck driver who has a CDL, it’s practical and convenient to be signed up for Clearinghouse.
What can CDL drivers use Clearinghouse for?
If you have a CDL and you’re registered for the database, there are a few things you can use it for.
First of all, you can view your own driver record. As we mentioned above, Clearinghouse has records of drug and alcohol violations (according to CFR Part 382, Subpart B). That means it shows positive drug and alcohol test results – and test refusals. It also contains information about a driver completing the return to duty process and follow-up testing plan if that is relevant.
Second, CDL drivers can give their electronic consent for the release of detailed drug and alcohol violation information to an employer, whether that’s your current employer or a potential employer. This makes everything a little easier on everyone, right?
Third, you can designate a substance abuse professional. They can then enter detailed information about any return-to-duty activities. The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) records the date of the SAP assessment, and they also enter the date in which the driver can do RTD testing. (This means that they’re putting in the date that they have ascertained that the driver is following education and treatment requirements and can begin RTD testing.)
Is an employer or Medical Review Officer able to enter a drug or alcohol program violation even if the driver isn’t registered?
Yes. Even if a CDL driver is not registered, violations can still be entered into Clearinghouse. The thing about Clearinghouse is that it links the violation to the driver’s CDL, and it does this even if the driver is not registered for Clearinghouse. So, if an employer queries the database with the proper consent, they’ll put in the driver’s CDL details to see if any violations have been linked to the driver’s CDL. Thus, even if the driver is not registered for Clearinghouse, an employer can still see violations that have been linked to their CDL.
The reason for this is, in part, to prevent CDL drivers with violations in one state from simply moving to another state and applying for a CDL there. Clearinghouse links the CDLs together, just like it links violations to the CDL. That way it’s keeping records that are as accurate as possible.
Can employers see a driver’s violations if they were entered by a different employer?
Employers can see information in the driver’s record. They can do a limited query (which necessitates the driver’s consent from outside the Clearinghouse). If the limited query shows that there is indeed information in the driver’s record, the employer can then request a full query to get more details about the violation information, though they still need the driver’s electronic consent to see any of the detailed information regarding the violations.
How is driver information protected in Clearinghouse?
If you are a CDL-carrying tow truck driver, you might wonder how Clearinghouse will protect driver information. The database will abide by all applicable Federal standards, and the FMCSA will regularly check the security measures that are in place. Here’s what you need to know.
- Clearinghouse is only accessible to authorized users, not the public. Only these authorized users can register for the database.
- The Clearinghouse requires a login.gov username and password to access it. Login.gov is a secure way for accessing government systems, and it requires user verification.
- Drivers can look at their own records any time.
- Information regarding violations will only go to an employer when the appropriate consent has been obtained. (Drivers can see the information that would be given to the employer before giving their consent for the information to be released.)
- The FMCSA and other enforcement agencies will only use this driver information as necessary to enforce drug and alcohol regulations.
Anyway, that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Clearinghouse and tow truck drivers. CDL drivers technically are not required to register for Clearinghouse, but it is very practical for any CDL driver to be registered in the Clearinghouse.
Another important part of towing is having the proper tow truck insurance. It’s crucial to have the right coverage to protect your business. Our team of tow truck insurance experts would be happy to help with that. Get started with your quotes by filling out our online form, giving us a call, or messaging us on LiveChat.