Can Trucking Companies Be Held Liable for Drugged Trucker Accidents?

Published on January 22, 2019, by Matthew Sharp

Trucking Accident

Can Trucking Companies Be Held Liable for Drugged Trucker Accidents?

When drugged truckers cause accidents and injuries, trucking companies can be held liable for damages. Truck drivers are subject to state and federal regulations, including required drug testing.

Truckers High on Drugs

In 1991, Congress established the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, which requires drug and alcohol testing for all transportation employees. Under this act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for testing regulations for all bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, and other drivers with a mandatory commercial driver’s license. According to federal and state laws, truck drivers must undergo regular drug and alcohol testing to ensure public safety.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires commercial truck drivers to be randomly tested for drug and alcohol throughout the year. Employers are not allowed to give truckers advanced notice for testing. All commercial truckers must receive a negative drug test result before they are allowed to drive a commercial vehicle. Trucking companies and employers are allowed to give drug tests as a requirement for employment, following a trucking accident, and if a driver is suspected of drug or alcohol use. If a driver refuses to take a drug test or tests positive for drugs or alcohol, he/she is not permitted to drive until a negative test result is received. To continue driving, test results must remain negative for at least six tests within a 12-month period.

Drug testing looks for the presence of certain drugs including cocaine, heroin, opiates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, phencyclidine, and marijuana. Alcohol testing looks for a blood alcohol level of .02 or higher. Any truck driver who tests positive for any of these drugs, or who registers a blood alcohol level of .04 or greater, shows positive tests results. If a driver refuses to take a test, the test results are also considered positive.

Trucking companies continually monitor drivers for symptoms of driver impairment to ensure roadway safety and protect against liability for accidents and injuries. If an impaired truck driver is responsible for a crash, the trucking company can be held responsible for injury and property damages.

Although the Department of Transportation mandates regular drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers, trucking companies can administer private testing to check for additional drugs using different testing methods. Employers are required to provide handbooks to drivers that explain drug and alcohol testing and the consequences for violating federal and state laws, as well as employer-based programs.