Beer bottles raised against the sunset with text about impaired driving

It is against the law for any driver to drive while intoxicated or while under the influence of dangerous drugs. However, the rules are even more stringent for commercial drivers such as truckers. Large trucks accidents can be catastrophic. They can result in significant injuries and devastating fatalities. Accordingly, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established stringent rules for commercial drivers. While most drivers are considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher, commercial drivers are considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol when they have BACs of 0.04% or higher.

Truckers Should Expect Regular Testing

United States Department of Transportation regulations require that commercial drivers be regularly tested for:

  • Alcohol (BAC levels of 0.02% or higher can be detected).
  • Marijuana.
  • Cocaine.
  • Opiates (including opium and codeine derivatives).
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines.
  • Phencyclidine (PCP).

There are six different times when an employer may test a trucker for drugs and alcohol. These include:

  • Before the trucker is hired. An employer must obtain a negative drug test before allowing a trucker to operate a commercial truck.
  • After an accident. After certain serious accidents, such as when there is an accident-related death, the employer must test the trucker.
  • At random times during employment. Federal regulations require that commercial drivers be tested randomly throughout the year.
  • Upon reasonable suspicion. Drivers who seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol should be tested immediately.
  • As a follow-up to a previous test. Regular follow-up tests will be required for any driver who tested positive for drugs or alcohol in a previous test or who refused to take a test.
  • Before a return to work. A negative test for drugs or alcohol must be obtained before a driver who previously tested positive for drugs or alcohol (or who refused to take a test) can get behind the wheel again.

The goal of this testing is to prevent serious drugged and drunk driving truck crashes.

But the Rules, Regulations, and Testing Don’t Prevent All Crashes

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about two percent of truckers involved in fatal crashes have BAC levels of 0.08% or greater. More truckers may be under the influence of drugs or have lower BACs that still impact their driving and can result in dangerous accidents.

If the trucker is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when a crash occurs, then the trucker or his employer may be liable for any injuries or fatalities that result.

If you’ve been hurt in a truck crash then you need to take action to protect your recovery. That starts by determining the cause of the truck accident and by taking steps to protect your legal rights. You need to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call us directly at 800.800.5678 for more information about your legal options and potential recovery.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.