What happens when a truck accident investigation shows a CDL holder was drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of an accident? Who is liable for the driver's negligent actions and the personal injuries, property damage, or wrongful deaths the accident caused? Drug and alcohol abuse are common in the trucking industry and when they occur, they place other motorists and pedestrians at risk of serious harm. When a truck accident investigation uncovers the presence of either drugs or alcohol, the driver and potentially their employer can be held liable for the damages that result.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drug and alcohol testing for new hire commercial truck drivers who operate vehicles whose gross vehicle weight exceeds 26,000 lbs. for those that transport hazardous materials, and for those who operate vehicles that carry more than 16 passengers. The drug testing must include tests for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, and PCP. This testing should always be performed throughout the year on a random basis or at any time when an employer suspects drug or alcohol use. When an accident causes a fatality, personal injuries, or leads to the disabling of at least one of the vehicles involved in the crash, drug and alcohol testing must be conducted as part of the truck accident investigation within 8 hours following the accident. It may also be ordered if the responding police officer suspects the presence of drugs or alcohol, or if the CDL holder has previously failed a drug or alcohol test.
In 2016, 95,000, or 1.98% of truck drivers tested failed their drug tests. This was a slight increase over the 1.85% recorded in 2015. This is a seven year high and shows that the problem continues to grow even as enforcement increases. Marijuana use was the most common drug found with .81% of drivers testing positive for the presence of the drug. This was followed by .65% for amphetamine, and .16 for cocaine. These drugs significantly impair a commercial truck driver's ability to judge distance, see obstructions and changes in the road, respond to changes in traffic, adjust speed to account for weather and other conditions on the road, and read and comprehend signs. Alcohol and drugs also negatively affect coordination and diminish a motorist's reflexes. This hinders the ability of a commercial truck driver to brake and safely maneuver the vehicle.
Commercial truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers when it comes to BAC limits. Commercial drivers who have a BAC of .02 receive a 24-hour suspension of their driver's license. Those who have a BAC of .04 or greater receive a DUI charge. In all cases, the responding law enforcement officer also has the discretion to arrest the driver if they believe the driver's ability to operate the vehicle is significantly impaired. In 2015, of the 3,996 commercial truck drivers who were involved in fatality accidents, 60 had BAC's greater than .08%. In 2016, of the 4,152 CDL holders involved in fatal accidents, the number with BAC's in excess of .08% rose to 83.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients when a truck accident investigation determines a commercial truck driver's drug or alcohol use caused an accident. Remember that the insurance carriers for the trucking companies like Great West Casualty, Nationwide, Scottsdale and other big insurance companies have their own accident investigation within an hour of the accident. Thus, you need to have a lawyer, attorney or abogado quickly after your accident. Whether the accident occurred in Topeka, Wichita, Hays, Salina, Lenexa, Leavenworth, Gardner, Great Bend, Tulsa, Decatur, Guymon, Lincoln, Omaha, Ulysses, Satanta, Colby, Great Bend, Garden City, Tonkawa, Enid, Guymon, St. Louis, Kansas City, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas, Fort Worth, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Antonio, Laredo, or elsewhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Illinois, Texas, Florida or Missouri, our team helps clients recover compensation for the personal injuries, wrongful deaths, and property damage caused by the accident.
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