Are Commercial Truck Drivers Drug Tested After Crashes?
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- Are Commercial Truck Drivers Drug Tested After Crashes?
February 17, 2021
Driving a commercial truck is dangerous even under optimal conditions. When you throw in other factors, like distractions, bad weather, lack of sleep, or drug or alcohol use, there is a high risk for a serious crash.
Unfortunately, some truck drivers still get behind the wheel after drinking or while they are under the influence of illicit or even prescription drugs. That is why federal trucking regulations require drug or alcohol sobriety testing after some commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes.
Below, learn more about federal regulations on testing for drugs or alcohol after a truck accident, including reasons why a trucking company may not be required to test a driver.
If you suspect the truck driver who caused your crash was drunk or under the influence of drugs, make sure to inform the police when they arrive on the scene, as they may conduct a sobriety test. You should also contact a Phoenix-based truck accident attorney as soon as possible to determine if you may have a valid case.
Post-Crash Drug and Alcohol Testing Rules
Under federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a drug or alcohol test is required after any crash that results in death, whether a traffic citation was issued or not. The FMCSA also requires testing for drugs and alcohol when a truck driver receives a traffic citation for any accident that causes:
- Bodily injury that needs immediate medical treatment away from the scene
- Disabling property damage that requires a vehicle to be towed away
When Must the Drug or Alcohol Test Occur?
FMCSA regulations say employers must test drivers as soon as it is practical to do so. However, if more than eight hours pass, employers are no longer required to do a test for alcohol. Employers are also not required to drug test their driver after more than 32 hours have passed after a crash.
Trucking companies have an incentive to abuse the system because it may help them escape liability for damages caused by a collision. However, if testing is not done, the FMCSA requires employers to document the reasons why. That should make it harder for trucking companies to abuse the system and not do a drug or alcohol test when one should be done.
What if You Think the Truck Driver Who Caused the Crash is Impaired?
When you talk to the police, explain the reasons why you think the truck driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Did you notice the driver slurring words or struggling to walk? Did you smell alcohol under the driver’s breath? Did you see anything inside the truck’s cab that may indicate drug use?
If the police can confirm your suspicions, or at least have reason to question the driver’s sobriety, they may be more likely to conduct a field alcohol test. If the police issue the truck driver a citation for impaired driving, it increases the likelihood that his or her employer will also require drug or alcohol testing.
What if a Driver Tests Positive?
When a truck driver tests positive for drugs or alcohol, it could help strengthen your claim for compensation. In this situation, it will be difficult for the trucking company to argue that its driver is not at fault for the crash.
As for the trucker’s driving privileges, he or she is immediately prohibited from operating a commercial truck. There is a process the driver must go through to be able to get behind the wheel again, which includes the following steps:
- Receive an evaluation by a substance abuse professional
- Take part in a prescribed treatment program
- Pass a drug or alcohol test ”“ the result must show no controlled substances or an alcohol concentration less than 0.02 percent
- Have a documented schedule for follow-up tests
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