Understanding Truck Driver DUIs
And How Shipping Companies Can and Should Prevent Them
In most states, individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) face tougher penalties when they are convicted of a DUI/DWI (driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated) – even if they didn’t drink and drive on the job. While truck drivers with one DUI/DWI may be able to get a job after their driving privileges are restored and time has passed, 2 DUI/DWIs can disqualify them from commercial driving forever.
According to Trucking Truth:
“FMCSA [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] regulations state that a second conviction for a CDL-holder for operating a vehicle, commercial or otherwise, under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or a second [drug or alcohol test] refusal, will disqualify a driver from obtaining a CDL for life.”
Although FMCSA regulations apply nationwide, certain companies will not hire drivers with DUI/DWIs on their record at all (even if it’s just one). Most companies also refuse to hire drivers with a single DUI in the past 5 to 7 years. Additionally, shipping companies must perform random drug and alcohol testing to ensure their drivers are not using substances that impair their driving.
In many cases, refusing these tests is like admitting to a DUI/DWI.
When on duty, truck drivers have stricter limits for blood alcohol content (BAC). While passenger vehicle drivers are considered legally intoxicated at 0.08% BAC, truck drivers can face charges at half that amount, or 0.04% BAC.
Truck drivers must also submit to tests to determine their BAC or they can be charged with a crime. Testing may come from police officers during routine traffic stops or DUI checkpoints, or from employers during scheduled and random drug and alcohol screenings.
In many states, truck drivers may not even possess alcohol or other controlled substances while on the job.
Consequences for DUIs and DUI-related charges include job loss, license suspension, and even jail time.
Shipping Company Responsibilities
Shipping companies have a duty to make sure their drivers don’t drive under the influence. They must also hire drivers who will be safe on the road.
Typically, this starts with a background check. If a driver has DUIs on their record, the company should think twice about hiring them. Some companies will not hire a driver with a past DUI/DWI and many will only hire someone 5 to 7 years after the conviction.
Unfortunately, some companies fail to perform a background check altogether and may hire a driver with a more recent DUI/DWI without knowing it. Worse still, some companies fail to check qualifications and may hire a driver whose CDL has been suspended for life.
Even if shipping companies do everything right during the hiring process, they must continually monitor their employees. Employers must follow drug and alcohol testing rules set by the FMCSA, which means they must implement and conduct both scheduled and random drug testing to help ensure their drivers are clean, sober, and safe.
What Happens When Drivers or Shipping Companies Fail Their Responsibilities?
A driver with 2 DUI/DWIs should never operate a commercial vehicle nor should anyone without a CDL. Shipping companies are responsible for enforcing these federal standards, and if they do not, they could be held liable for negligent hiring and any accidents or injuries that occur as a result.
Drivers, however, also have a responsibility to follow the rules. Drinking or using drugs before operating any vehicle can lead to serious criminal consequences, as well as civil liability.
If you’ve been harmed by a drunk truck driver, our attorneys at Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin are here to help ensure both the driver and their employer face liability for your accident and injuries.
You should not have to grapple with the financial fallout of driver and shipping company negligence alone. With 200+ years of combined legal experience, we walk by your side and help balance the scales of justice. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for past clients, and we can help you, too.