How to Identify Truck Drivers who are on Drugs or Alcohol

By December 9, 2016Blog
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Thanks to a new federal rule, we may have fewer truck drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Missouri. But we will have to wait three more years.

Today, all truck drivers (anyone operating a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license) may undergo drug and alcohol testing under several circumstances, including:

· Prior to being hired

· Following a fatal trucking accident

· Reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol abuse

A driver who tests positive for drugs or alcohol, or refuses to be tested, must go through a structured education and treatment process – as well as pass a drug and alcohol screening test – before getting back on the road. It’s up to employers to make sure this is done.

But you can’t always rely on truck drivers or trucking companies to do the right thing. And that’s where this new federal rule comes in.

National Database with Truckers who Test Positive

The rule establishes a clearinghouse that encompasses a database of every trucker who has failed a drug or alcohol test. Just as important, the rule requires trucking companies to refer to the database prior to hiring a new trucker to check for previous violations. Trucking companies must also check once a year to determine if any current drivers are in the drug and alcohol database.

The clearinghouse will note when offending drivers have successfully completed terms for re-employment. It will also track drivers whenever they change employers or go to different states to apply for a commercial driver’s license. There aren’t many obstacles today to fired truckers simply picking up with new company.

Employers Must Report Truckers Who Fail Drug or Alcohol Testing

Trucking companies will be required to report to the clearinghouse all truckers who tested positive for drugs or who had a blood-alcohol content greater than .04 percent, as well as those who refused to be tested.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed this rule early in 2016. After public and industry discussion and review, the rule was finalized and published December 5, 2016. Unfortunately the truck driver clearinghouse won’t be mandated and operational until January 2020.

Today’s drivers testing positive for alcohol or controlled substances, and potential new employers, are on the honor system. Companies that ignore or don’t research new-hire work histories and truckers who don’t volunteer details of their checkered past are both behaving recklessly.

Those who were seriously hurt or had a family member killed in a crash involving a commercial truck may want to consult an attorney who represents trucking accident victims to pursue justice from all those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by: Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. posted in Truck Accidents on Friday, December 9, 2016.