Truck Drivers Under the Influence

Truckers driving drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs can cause catastrophic crashes.  Beginning next year, there will be a new, concrete way to monitor commercial truck drivers who have abused alcohol and/or drugs.

One of the biggest challenges facing the trucking industry today is keeping up with truck driver demand.  The online shopping boom has created the need for many more trucks on the road to move purchased goods.  More trucks require more truck drivers.

But the rush for trucking companies to hire more truck drivers can be problematic.  It can lead to people driving big rigs that shouldn’t, for a variety of reasons.  One reason is for a history of driving drunk or using illegal drugs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addressed this issue in 2016. That’s when the agency began developing the Federal Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  This is an electronic database that is accessible by motor carriers when they want to hire new truck drivers to their companies.

Database of Truckers with Drug and Alcohol Abuse History

On January 6, 2020, the database will be active and trucking companies will be able to access the information.  The information will include commercial truck drivers who have tested previously for abusing alcohol and/or illegal drugs. Truck drivers who have refused drug testing or alcohol testing also will be incorporated.

In addition to documented truckers’ failed drug or alcohol tests, the information will also include whether or not these truckers have completed required the “return-to-duty” process. This applies to truck drivers who have failed drug or alcohol testing and those who refused to be tested.

Actions that these truckers must take to return to work include completed treatment by substance abuse professionals and clean follow-up test results.

The one caveat is that potential new hires must allow employers to access the federal clearinghouse.

This new clearinghouse will allow companies to monitor that all of these steps have been taken by offending truckers (who have consented). It will also alert companies to truckers who have a drug or alcohol abuse violation in one state yet obtain commercial driver licenses in other states.

Truck Drivers Who Must Be Tested for Alcohol and Drugs

The federal government has specific substance abuse testing requirements for truck drivers.  Newly hired truck drivers must be tested for drugs. The specific drugs commercial truckers tested for are:

·         Marijuana

·         Cocaine

·         Opiates

·         Amphetamines and methamphetamines

·         Phencyclidine – PCP

Other truckers who may be subject to drug and alcohol testing are:

·         Truck drivers involved in fatal accidents

·         Truck drivers suspected of being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol

Working truck drivers are also subject to random drug and alcohol testing every year.

While the clearinghouse could be a good step to keeping drugged or drunk truck drivers off the road, there is a catch. Truckers are not required to register, even those with history of substance abuse.  It’s a voluntary screening tool.

Companies in desperate need for truck drivers may ignore easily identified drug and alcohol use when hiring. They could be considered legally negligent when one of their truckers driving under the influence causes a fatal truck crash.

When truck drivers under the influence carelessly get behind the wheel with a fully loaded rig and kill others, they should be held responsible.  Same holds for companies that knowingly overlook safe hiring practices.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member killed in a crash with a commercial truck, speak with a truck accident attorney experienced in bringing trucking companies to account.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles December 2, 2019