Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in the state of California. Commercial truck drivers are expected to follow all state and federal laws prohibiting impaired driving. Truck drivers are subject to stricter regulations than standard motorists. Despite the laws restricting drug and alcohol use, drug use continues to be a problem among drivers of large trucks.
A driver who is operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is a menace to himself and others on the roads. The driver can be held responsible for losses and damages that result when a truck accident occurs. Trucking companies may sometimes be held accountable for actions of their workers on duty, including for the illegal use of drugs by drivers. If a trucking company fails to have reasonable policies in place prohibiting drug use, checking truck driver backgrounds and conducting routine drug testing, the company may also be held responsible for its own negligence.
Statistics Tie Drug Use By Large Truck Drivers to Truck Accidents
Drug and alcohol use among truck drivers has increased. A Large Truck Causation Study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration assessed driver drug use in fatal collisions using data from 1996 to 2001. The data revealed that drivers tested positive for drugs in 1.8 percent of collisions and tested positive for alcohol in one percent of crashes.
The importance of prohibiting drivers from using drugs was well known by this time. The FMCSA passed regulations on drug testing for commercial truckers in the early 1990’s. The FMCSA rules found in Part 382 indicate who is subject to drug testing, when testing occurs, and what situations can trigger a test of a driver’s drug or alcohol use.
Despite strict laws and decades of education on the dangers of drugged driving, FMCSA data released in 2014 showed a higher number of truckers testing positive for drugs and alcohol than during the late 1990’s. The results of drug tests from truck accidents during 2012 showed that four percent of commercial truckers in fatal collisions tested positive for at least one drug.
Drugged Driving is Illegal and Truck Accident Victims Have Rights
Truck drivers are strictly prohibited from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 prohibits commercial drivers from operating a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content of .04 percent or higher – half the legal limit for other motor vehicle drivers – and prohibits anyone from driving a vehicle while under the influence of any drug. The same vehicle code section also prohibits someone who is addicted to drugs from driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addresses drug and alcohol use specific to truck drivers and prohibits truckers from driving under the influence of any prescription or non-prescription medications that affect driving abilities.
When truck drivers are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may be in violation of these state and federal laws. This violation can create a presumption of negligence that makes it easier for truck accident victims to obtain compensation. If you were involved in a truck accident and can prove a drugged or drunk trucker was to blame, you should be compensated for injuries and losses.
A personal injury attorney can help you to obtain necessary toxicology reports from law enforcement officers and to gather evidence to make a claim for compensation.
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