Truck Drivers Who Fail Drug or Alcohol Tests
Highway Trooper

While there’s been a spike in failed commercial truck driver drug tests, many of those drivers may still be on the road today.

In January 2020 the federal government established the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  This is the first nationwide effort to keep track of commercial truck drivers who fail a test for alcohol use or a test for illegal or illicit drug use.

Truck companies and truck fleet operators are required to check the database before hiring any new truck drivers.  They must also annually check on their current drivers.

Truck drivers who fail drug or alcohol tests – including refusals to take tests - are not allowed to drive until they complete specified “return-to-duty” steps. This process includes:

  • Truck driver meeting with a substance abuse professional
  • Truck driver successfully adhering to a treatment plan for drug or alcohol abuse
  • Negative test for drug and alcohol use

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides a monthly summary of the test results reported to the clearinghouse. Since January 2020 through August 2021, nearly 94,000 truck driver drug test violations have been recorded, and more than 2,100 alcohol test violations.

Growing Number of Truck Driver Failed Drug and Alcohol Tests

Even more troubling, commercial trucker drug test violations are rising.

Comparing August 2020 to August 2021, the number of failed drug tests by truck drivers increased some 13%, to 5,230 in August of this year.

While a growing number of commercial truckers with failed substance abuse tests have been identified, some may still be driving in violation of federal rules.

A recently uncovered loophole finds that state agencies that issue commercial drivers’ licenses, as well as renew them, were not automatically receiving clearinghouse information on commercial truck drivers licensed in their states who have drug or alcohol test violations. The federal government recently finalized a new rule that addresses this.

The new rule now requires state agencies to access the federal drug and alcohol clearinghouse before issuing any new commercial driver’s licenses or renewing existing ones.

Commercial Truck Drivers with Suspended Driving Privileges

In addition, states will be required to suspend the commercial driving privileges of truck drivers with failed tests until they complete the federal return-to-duty process.

With this new rule in place, police, when conducting stops for traffic violations or roadside inspections, can more easily identify commercial truck drivers who should not be driving.

The new rule goes into effect November 8, but the deadline for all states to comply is not until November 2024.

According to latest federal data, covering 2019, 11% of all fatal crashes in Missouri involved a large commercial truck.  There’s no breakdown of how many of those truck drivers were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but hopefully this new rule will help reduce fatal truck crashes in Missouri.

Truck drivers who use alcohol or drugs and get behind the wheel and cause accidents – and employers who knowingly keep them on the road – should be held accountable to their victims and families.

If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a personal injury lawyer about your legal rights to just compensation.

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

Posted in Blog November 9, 2021


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