Truck Drivers Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Drinking and driving is always a careless decision. However, it is downright reckless for a truck driver to operate a vehicle weighing up to 80,000 pounds after they have consumed alcohol or drugs. Tragically, thousands of accidents occur every year because of impaired truck drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you were injured in a truck accident caused by an impaired truck driver, contact Caruso Law Offices, P.C. to discuss your situation during a free case review.

What Are the Legal Alcohol and Drug Limits for Commercial Drivers?

While the legal blood alcohol content limit (BAC) is 0.08% for most drivers, it is half of this for commercial drivers at 0.04%. This lower limit acknowledges the importance of a driver being free of impairment while operating a commercial vehicle.

Additionally, a driver is not physically qualified to drive a commercial vehicle if they take any Schedule I drug or substance (including marijuana), amphetamine, narcotic, or other habit-forming drug, according to the FMCSA. If the driver is prescribed medication by a licensed medical practitioner, the practitioner must certify that the medication will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle to be physically qualified to drive.

Side Effects of Drug or Alcohol Use on Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol can have the following impacts on driving:

  • Reduce the ability to judge distance, speed, and movement of other vehicles
  • Slow reaction time
  • Slow the ability to focus
  • Slow the time to process information
  • Slow the time to respond to critical driving tasks
  • Affect awareness
  • Hinder judgment
  • Cause blurred vision or double vision
  • Increase drowsiness
  • Make the driver less alert
  • Increase the likelihood that the driver crosses the centerline or wanders from lane to lane

Some truck drivers may take stimulants, which can have the following adverse effects on driving:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Flushed skin
  • Vomiting

Employer Responsibilities for Drug and Alcohol Testing

Employers are responsible for ensuring that their drivers are safe to operate their vehicles. Trucking companies are required to conduct drug and alcohol testing at the following times, according to the FMCSA:

  • Pre-employment – The trucking company must obtain a verified negative drug result and a BAC result of 0.02% or less before they can hire a driver.
  • After an accident – Trucking companies are required to conduct drug and alcohol testing after an accident that results in a fatality, bodily injury with immediate medical treatment if the driver was issued a traffic citation for the accident, or disabling damage to any motor vehicle that requires a tow-away.
  • Reasonable suspicion – Trucking companies are responsible for training CDL driver supervisors to detect the symptoms of driver impairment. If the supervisor notices these symptoms, they can immediately test the driver.
  • Random – Trucking companies must conduct random drug testing on their drivers, with at least 50% of all safety-sensitive employees being tested annually. may hire third parties to load cargo at stops. If these parties do not properly load or secure the cargo and the load shifts during transit, they may be responsible for the resulting crash.
  • Return-to-duty – If a truck driver tested positive, refused a test, or otherwise violated the drug and alcohol testing requirements, they must complete the return-to-duty process outlined by the Department of Transportation. The driver must test negative to regain the privilege of driving. The driver is also subject to at least six observed tests in the coming year. trucks involve thousands of moving components.

Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you were injured in a truck accident you believe an impaired driver caused, reach out to our truck accident attorney in Albuquerque. Call Caruso Law Offices, P.C. at (505) 393-3992 or contact us online to get started with a free case review.