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Truck and 18 Wheeler Accidents: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

It’s illegal, for obvious reasons, to operate an 18-wheeler or other large commercial truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Yet, statistics compiled by the Nation Transportation Safety Board suggest that drug use has been a significant factor in many trucking-related accidents.

Up to 35% of all truck drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents have tested positive for illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and PCP. In the case of many fatigue-related accidents, the driver of the truck also tested positive for drugs or alcohol.

Federal and State Regulations Prohibit Truckers from Using or Possessing Drugs and Alcohol While on Duty

All commercial truck and bus drivers are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).

The FMCSRs relating drug and alcohol use are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 382, or 49 CFR §382.

These rules expressly forbid truckers from using any of the following while on duty:

  • Any Schedule 1 Substance as defined by 21 CFR 1308.11.
  • An amphetamine or any formulation thereof (such as “pep pills” or “bennies”).
  • Narcotic drugs or their derivatives.
  • Any other substance, to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle.

In general, these regulations prohibit truckers from even possessing these substances while on duty, unless it was prescribed by a doctor who has told the driver that it will not affect their ability to operate their vehicle.

Like most states, Texas has established a much lower BAC limit on commercial drivers than other motorists. While the legal limit for a non-commercial driver is 0.08 in Texas, the limit for commercial drivers is 0.04 BAC.

Truckers with a BAC as low as 0.02 are subject to a 24-hour commercial driving suspension.

All Commercial Truck Drivers Must Undergo Drug and Alcohol Testing

FMSCA regulations require trucking companies to test all of their drivers for the following five substances:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP

Federally-mandated testing includes:

  • Pre-employment screening
  • Post-accident screening
  • Random testing: Trucking companies are required to randomly test 10% of their employees throughout the year
  • Reasonable suspicion testing: Any driver who appears to be under the influence can be subject to immediate, random testing. Trucking companies are also required to train their supervisors to recognize and detect signs of driver impairment
  • Return to duty testing: Drivers who previously tested positive, refused a test, or otherwise violated drug and alcohol prohibitions must complete the return-to-duty process with a qualified substance abuse professional and test negative for illicit substances before returning to work.  Specimen collection for return-to-duty testing must be conducted under the direct supervision of an observer
  • Follow-up: Drivers who have a negative return-to-duty test after previously testing positive must undergo a minimum of 6 directly-supervised tests within the following 12-month period. The regulations also allow for follow-up testing to be extended up to 4 years.

If a truck driver refuses to participate in a drug or alcohol test, the FMCSR prohibit that driver from driving for as long as 1 year.

Injured in a Truck or 18-Wheeler Accident? Contact our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consult at 1-888-603-3636 or by Using the Form on the Right or by Clicking Here

If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in an 18-wheeler crash, you can be assured that the trucking company and its insurance adjusters are doing everything possible to avoid responsibility for both the accident and your injuries.

To protect your rights and ensure you have access to evidence that proves that the truck driver was at fault, it’s critical that you talk to an Experienced Houston Truck Accident Attorney near you as soon after a crash as possible.

Having won more than $1 billion for our clients, our Undefeated Truck Accident Lawyers have the experience, resources and ability to stand up against the largest trucking companies in the country and make sure that they fully compensate our clients and their families for all of their injuries and losses.

All consultations are free and, because we work exclusively on contingency fee, you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Contact our Experienced and Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here.