Legal Constraints for Truck Drivers

David W. Hodges
David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.

Scene of a Wreck Between a Commerical Truck and a CarTrucking professionals are expected to observe safety measures that may prevent the devastating consequences of truck accidents. When it comes to impaired truck driving, the risk of injury—and death—is even greater than usual. As such, truck drivers are held to higher standards than passenger vehicle drivers in instances of impaired driving.

The Dangers of Impaired Driving

Alcohol and drugs affect the body in a variety of ways. When alcohol or other substances are present, drivers are more likely to make mistakes behind the wheel. Impaired drivers’ reaction times are slower and, in many cases, they cannot think as sharply or judge as rationally as non-impaired drivers. Impaired drivers are also more likely to experience a release of inhibition and participate in risky behavior. Coordination, depth perception, concentration, speed control and information processing may also be affected, depending on the individual’s alcohol tolerance and blood alcohol content (BAC) level.

BAC Requirements

Because of the size of commercial trucks, accidents with passenger vehicles can be traumatic and often deadly. To uphold safety standards and persuade drivers to refrain from drinking and driving, commercial truck drivers are legally required to have no more than .04 percent BAC, compared with non-commercial drivers whose limit is .08 percent BAC. Use of illegal drugs or other medications that may affect driving ability is also prohibited. These substances may include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Opium
  • Methamphetamines
  • PCP
  • Anti-seizure medication
  • Methadone

Truck drivers who choose to disobey the law may be held liable for accidents, and may also face fines, jail time, suspension or loss of the driver’s commercial driver’s license and additional disciplinary action from the driver’s employer. Refusal to take a breathalyzer test is also often grounds for penalties.

If the truck driver involved in your accident was found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries from the driver’s employer, the vehicle’s owner, or the driver.

When a Driver’s Employer Is at Fault

Negligent hiring practices can hold a company accountable for an impaired driving accident. By law, employers are required to consider a driver’s driving history—including his or her history of driving while impaired. If the employer chooses to turn a blind eye to save money on the employee’s wages or due to the nationwide shortage of truck drivers, the company can be held accountable for placing unsafe drivers on the road.

In addition to screening an employee’s driving history, truck drivers’ employers are also expected to continuously monitor a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle through randomized testing. Law enforcement officers with reasonable suspicion may also test a driver along the road and are expected to test truck drivers following a car crash.

Truck Accident Injuries

Accidents involving commercial trucks are among the most dangerous and deadly for passenger vehicle occupants. Truck drivers who operate large commercial vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol place others’ lives at risk. Injuries that may occur in these accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Concussions or other brain injuries
  • Comas
  • Rib injuries
  • Suffocation
  • Paralysis
  • Loss of limbs
  • Neck or back injuries
  • Trauma to internal organs
  • Lacerations
  • Death

The consequences of impaired driving accidents can be life-altering for all parties involved. Fortunately, they can be prevented.

Truck drivers who operate a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol must face the consequences of their actions. By pursuing a claim for a driver’s negligent actions, you may be preventing similar accidents in the future, in addition to receiving financial support to address your injuries. If you have suffered any of the injuries listed above in association with your car crash, the firm may be able to help. To learn more, visit this post on who may be liable for your truck accident. You may also contact the firm for a cost-free, obligation-free consultation.