An 18-wheeler truck carries a tremendous amount of momentum as it speeds down the highway. If the driver is intoxicated, their truck becomes a missile. Since truck drivers carry commercial driver’s licenses, and since strict FMCSA regulations regulate the activities of truckers, you might assume that drivers must automatically submit to an FMCSA drug test after a truck accident. This is not true.  

When Truck Drivers Must Submit to Drug or Alcohol Testing 

Once a crash occurs, the police will almost certainly arrive to investigate the scene of the crash, transport injured parties to the hospital, remove any traffic obstructions, and create a police report. So when will the police give a truck driver a drug or alcohol test? Whenever they suspect that the driver is under the influence of an intoxicant. 

The police will first administer a field sobriety test (walking a straight line, for example). If the driver fails this test, they will administer a blood, breath, or urine test. If the driver fails this test, the police will issue a citation and arrest the driver. 

Tell the police if you observe any of the following evidence of driver intoxication after an accident:

  • An odor of alcohol on the breath;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Staggering or stumbling;
  • The driver left the back door of the truck open or committed some similar oversight that might suggest intoxication;
  • Beer cans in the seat or floorboard;
  • Reckless driving leading up to the accident; or
  • Any other evidence of intoxication.

This might prompt the police to test the driver, issue a citation, and arrest the driver. If you can establish a DUI, your chances of winning a personal injury lawsuit over the accident will likely increase significantly.

When Must the Trucking Company Test the Driver?

According to FMCSA regulations, the trucking company must test the driver for drugs or alcohol if:

  • The accident caused injuries that resulted in medical treatment (other than on-the-scene first aid), and the police issued a citation; 
  • The accident damaged a vehicle badly enough to cause the vehicle to have to be towed, and the police issued a citation; or
  • Someone died in the accident, even if the police issued no citation.

The trucking company must conduct a CDL accident drug test on the driver as soon after the accident as possible. After eight hours have elapsed, however, they no longer have to test the driver for alcohol. After 32 hours, they no longer have to test the driver for drugs. Nevertheless, if the trucking company fails to test the driver for whatever reason, they must issue the FMCSA an explanation of why they didn’t. 

Once you establish that the driver committed DUI, it will be very difficult for the truck driver, the trucking company, or the insurance company to deny that the driver was at fault for the accident.  

CDL License Consequences

A truck driver must carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to work as a truck driver. For most drivers, a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is enough for a DUI conviction. For truckers driving on a CDL, the limit is 0.04%. A trucker caught driving under the influence will be immediately prohibited from driving a truck. They will have to jump through the following hoops to restore their driving privileges:

  • Evaluation by a substance abuse professional;
  • Participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program;
  • Pass a drug or alcohol test; and
  • Agree to follow-up testing for a certain period after the restoration of driving privileges.

Continuing drug or alcohol intoxication will result in a permanent loss of CDL driving privilege.

Get a Houston Truck Accident or Wrongful Death Lawyer Involved ASAP

Trucking accidents are typically devastating due to the sheer size of a commercial truck. Victims of devastating accidents demand a lot of compensation, and defendants facing large compensation claims tend to fight hard to defeat the claim. That is why you need to hire a good lawyer. You should also have your attorney involved early so they can develop familiarity with your case.

Contact the Houston Truck Accident Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help

For more information, contact the Houston truck accident law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

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