3 Things You Should Know About Truck Accidents & Drug Testing

3 Things You Should Know About Truck Accidents & Drug Testing

Truck Driver Sitting In Cab

April 4, 2017

Ellis Law Corporation

Truck Accident

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires alcohol and drug testing for all drivers of commercial vehicles. FMCSA regulations apply to anyone operating a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This includes commercial vehicles with a gross weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more, vehicles equipped to carry 16 or more passengers, as well as those placarded to haul hazardous contents.

The FMCSA has standard procedures for alcohol and drug testing both before and after commercial vehicle accidents, which we will outline below.

Drug screening for CMV drivers – pre-employment

Under FMSCA rules, all commercial vehicle drivers must pass a drug screen before they can be hired. In addition, they are subject to random drug tests throughout the year. If at any point, a truck driver tests positive for drugs, or registers a 0.04 or greater BAC, they must be immediately removed from “safety sensitive” duties which include operating a CMV. In addition, supervisors are trained to be on the alert for symptoms of driver impairment, and any commercial vehicle operator who is suspected of abusing drugs or alcohol can be tested on the spot.

What controlled substances are tested for?

CMV drivers are tested for variety of substances that can significantly impair driving abilities.

The DOT drug test screens for five classes of drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Opiates –codeine derivatives/opium
  • Marijuana
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines

The DOT drug tests adhere to established thresholds for each controlled substance. If a truck driver fails the drug screen, they are then required to complete a professional substance abuse evaluation and treatment protocols mandated by the FMCSA.

Post-accident drug testing

In trucking accidents that do not result in bodily injury or death, the FMSCA does not require drug testing for CDL drivers. This policy changes in crashes where:

  • Any driver or passenger was hurt and the driver was cited
  • A fatality occurred
  • Accidents where any vehicle was seriously damaged and towed away and the driver was cited

Under these circumstances, the commercial vehicle driver will be required to take a urine-based drug test within 32 hours of the accident. The test must be obtained by the driver’s employer and comply with state and federal drug testing requirements. Drivers who refuse to take a drug and alcohol test following a serious accident that causes injury or death are then barred from driving and may face additional liability with civil litigation.

Free consult with California truck accident attorneys

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle in California, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible, especially if you believe the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Ellis Injury Law has been successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims in Southern California for more than 20 years, and has the insight and knowledge to ensure victims are fairly compensated for their injuries. Don’t delay in contacting our Los Angeles truck accident lawyers for a free consultation.

Additional Truck Driver Drug Testing Resources:

  1. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Overview of Drug and Alcohol Rules https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/overview-drug-and-alcohol-rules
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, What tests are required and when does testing occur? https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/what-tests-are-required-and-when-does-testing-occur
  3. AllTrucking.com, Drug Testing at Trucking Companies: What You Need to Know http://www.alltrucking.com/faq/drug-testing-trucking-companies-what-you-need-know/