Truck drivers and trucking companies must follow the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations regarding testing truckers for alcohol and drug use. These rules were enacted to hopefully prevent truck drivers from driving when intoxicated from alcohol or drug use. While truckers are supposed to be tested on a certain schedule, trucking companies often fail to comply with the regulation. Even worse, a trucking company could allow a trucker to drive an 80,000-pound truck after failing a drug or alcohol test. If a truck driver caused your crash, you will want to investigate whether a violation of these DOT regulations, at least in part, contributed to your accident.
Who Must Be Tested and What Are They Tested For?
Anyone who possesses a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operates a commercial motor vehicle having a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more on public roads must comply with DOT’s alcohol and drug testing requirements. Part-time drivers are covered under the same regulations. Testing is now done by urinalysis, but could be performed using hair samples in the near future once procedures are approved. Truckers are tested for the following drugs:
- Opiates, including opium and codeine derivatives
- Amphetamines and methamphetamines
- Phencyclidine—commonly known as PCP
DOT alcohol tests will identify a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or greater. Truck drivers are prohibited from driving if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.04 or greater.
When Are Truck Drivers Required to Be Tested?
The DOT regulations require a truck driver to be tested for alcohol and drugs under a specific schedule. Truckers should be tested as follows:
- Pre-employment. A new trucker must negatively test for drugs before a trucking company allows him to drive a truck. If this trucker is removed from a random testing pool for more than 30 days, he must undergo a pre-employment test and pass it before being permitted to drive a truck again.
- Random. Truckers are subject to random drug and alcohol tests. Drug tests can be performed at the trucker’s home and when he is off-duty. Alcohol testing can be conducted right before, during, or right after a trucker’s driving shift. Once notified to report to a drug testing facility, a trucker must do so immediately. Failing to comply could be construed as a positive result.
- Post-accident. If a trucker was involved in a fatal accident or one where he received a traffic citation for an injury or vehicle-disabling accident, he must undergo drug and alcohol testing. The alcohol test must be completed within eight hours of the crash, and the drug test must be done within 36 hours.
- Reasonable suspicion. A DOT-trained supervisor can order drug and alcohol testing if a trucker exhibits signs of drug or alcohol abuse, such as his appearance, behavior, or speech.
- Return to duty. A truck driver who returns to work after failing a drug or alcohol test or refusing to submit to one must submit to a test after completing the return-to-work process and is subject to random, directly observed drug and alcohol testing at least six times during the first twelve months that he is back on the job.
- Follow-up. After completing the return-to-work process and the six mandatory tests the first year after a worker returns to work, he could be required to complete follow-up testing. This determination would be made by a Substance Abuse Professional, and the alcohol and drug testing can continue for up to five years.
Did the Trucker Who Caused Your Injuries Fail a Drug or Alcohol Test?
An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine if the truck driver who caused your crash failed a drug or alcohol test or failed to take a required one and whether this at least partially caused your crash. He can preserve vital evidence that could prove this by sending the trucking company a spoliation letter soon after your accident. Call Brauns Law today to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn about your legal options.