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Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Commercial Truckers

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Commercial trucks (big rigs, 18-wheelers and semi trucks) are incredibly large and have limited braking capacity, making them one of the most dangerous types of motor vehicles on the road. As such, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) impose strict regulations on truckers and trucking industry employers. Drug and alcohol enforcement is perhaps one of the most important federal trucking rules.

Trucking Drug and Alcohol Policy

49 Code of Federal Regulations (CRF) Part 40 comprises the trucking industry procedures for workplace drug and alcohol testing programs. Essentially, trucking industry employers must regularly and randomly test their drivers for drugs and alcohol. Drugs tested for include marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and PCP.

It is illegal for any commercial driver to operate their truck with an alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher. It is also illegal for any commercial driver to operate their truck with drugs in their system. Although certain states have legalized marijuana (both for recreational use and medicinal use), this has no bearing on federal trucking laws.

According to the U.S. DOT,

"It remains unacceptable for any safety‐sensitive employee subject to drug testing under the Department of Transportation's drug testing regulations to use marijuana."

What happens to truckers who fail alcohol and drug tests?

According to § 40.23 CFR, employers who receive confirmation that their employee tested positive for drugs must "immediately remove the employee involved from performing safety-sensitive functions. You must take this action upon receiving the initial report of the verified positive test result. Do not wait to receive the written report or the result of a split specimen test."

The same statute also explains that any employee who tests positive for alcohol at or above the legal limit for commercial drivers (.04 percent) must be immediately be removed from performing their job duties by their employer. An employee may be restored to his or her driving duties upon completion of the "return-to-duty" process.

Although a truck driver can be removed from their positions temporarily, it is up to the discretion of the employer whether or not to terminate said individual's employment. However, certain trucking companies might have individual regulations which state that truckers can be fired for violating drug or alcohol laws.

What does this mean for victims of truck accidents?

If you were involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, big rig, semi truck or other large commercial motor vehicle, then you may be entitled to take legal action. One of the things that our Houston truck accident attorneys look for is trucker drug or alcohol use. If this contributed to your accident, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against not only the truck driver, but their employer as well. Trucking companies are often backed by large insurance corporations, but at The Daspit Law Firm, we have the knowledge and resources to pursue compensation for you.

Call our firm today for a free consultation to discuss your trucking accident.

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