Truck drivers carry an immense responsibility. They operate vehicles easily weighing 10 to 20 times as much as typical passenger cars, and they may carry hazardous or extremely heavy cargo that could present a considerable hazard if it shifts or falls during transport.
Because commercial trucks pose real dangers on our roads, drivers must comply with stiff regulations when it comes to training, licensing, and also drug and alcohol use. Truck drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to drinking and driving and may be arrested for driving with half of the legal limit imposed on other drivers. They must also undergo routine and random drug and alcohol testing.
According to regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), commercial truck drivers who drive for private companies, governments, and church or civic organizations must:
- Undergo pre-employment drug testing, showing a negative result before they may perform safety-sensitive functions (such as operating commercial trucks on public roadways).
- Undergo alcohol testing and drug testing after a truck accident, if the accident resulted in another's death or a traffic citation was issued in relation to the accident. The alcohol test must be administered within 8 hours of the collision; the drug test must be administered within 32 hours of the accident.
- Undergo random drug and alcohol testing. Such tests must be performed immediately prior to, during or after a driver has performed safety-sensitive functions. On an annual basis, employers must randomly test at least 10% of drivers for alcohol and 50% for controlled substances.
- Submit to alcohol and/or drug testing if an employer has reasonable suspicion that the driver has violated trucking regulations related to drug or alcohol use.
- Undergo a return-to-work test for alcohol or controlled substances after a violation of trucking regulations, as well as submit to follow-up testing based off a set plan, including a minimum of 6 tests within the first 12 months.
- Take part in driver awareness programs that offer information regarding regulation requirements, alcohol misuse and controlled substances abuse. This may include information about testing requirements, what happens if a driver fails to follow these requirements, the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, and more.
- Face immediate suspension from driving or other safety-sensitive functions in the wake of a failed drug or alcohol test. An alcohol test that shows a blood alcohol concentration of .04% would warrant immediate removal from safety-sensitive functions. A blood alcohol test with a result of .02-.039% would warrant immediate suspension as well, until the driver's next regularly scheduled work period (as long as this is no less than 24 hours after the test).
These regulations are strict, and for good reason. As dramatic an impact alcohol or drugs (even prescription or over-the-counter medication) can have on any person, a commercial truck driver has an immensely difficult task in operating such a large and heavy vehicle when under the influence. A single mistake could result in a catastrophic collision that leaves others seriously injured or even claims their lives.
At The Daspit Law Firm, we represent clients across Houston and Texas who have been injured in truck accidents. With our knowledge of state and federal trucking regulations and the resources to investigate these collisions, we can identify violations of regulations, driver misconduct, and trucking company wrongdoing to hold at-fault parties accountable. For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer from our firm for a free consultation.