Truckers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and other endorsements to do their jobs. They drive specialized vehicles and need to maintain a high level of safety and care. Unfortunately, truckers can be careless and reckless. Truckers should never drive a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Sometimes they have too much to drink during a break or before a new shift and end up operating a vehicle while intoxicated. This is not only negligent, it is likely a crime.
If you were injured because of a trucker driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney of Studinski Law, LLC. We are here to review the situation and explain your legal options. Call us today at (715) 343-2850.
Blood Alcohol Content Limit for Truck Drivers
You likely know the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for motorists is .08 percent. However, this is for regular, non-professional drivers. When CDL holders are behind the wheel of their work vehicles, including truckers in semis, the legal BAC that applies to them is .04 percent. However, drivers of commercial motor vehicles should never operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
This alcohol level can be reached in the body by drinking one to three beers or glasses of wine within an hour or two, depending on the trucker’s sex, age, weight, and other physical characteristics. A trucker who takes a long break for dinner and has two beers or even a shot of hard liquor could have a BAC at or above .04 percent by the time they get back on the road.
The BAC for CDL drivers is very low for a reason. Both state and federal governments do not want truckers driving with any amount of alcohol in their systems. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, even a small amount, dramatically increases the risk of an accident. Alcohol can alter vision, hearing, coordination, and judgment. Ultimately, even a small amount of alcohol makes people less able to operate a vehicle safely, especially a complex machine like an 18-wheeler or other semi-truck.
Consequences of a Trucker Driving Under the Influence
If a truck driver causes an accident and the police determine they have a BAC at or above .04 percent, the truck can expect a number of civil and criminal consequences.
- The trucker will likely have a civil administrative license suspension. This occurs when a driver tests over the legal limit or refuses to take a breath test. While the trucker can appeal this suspension, it is often difficult to overcome. Therefore, you can be sure the person is not getting behind the wheel of their truck anytime soon.
- The trucker may be charged with an OWI, which could result in jail time, fines, license suspension, community service, educational requirements, and more.
- The trucker faces a CDL disqualification. If the trucker is arrested for a drunk driving offense, then they could have their commercial licenses suspended for one year. If they were carrying hazardous materials at the time, they could lose their CDL for three years.
- The truck driver or their employer may be liable to compensate you for the cost of your injuries.
Because of these penalties, a truck driver who is under the influence may take many actions to avoid liability. They may refuse a breathalyzer test, deny taking drugs, or blame you for the accident. When you work with our experienced truck accident lawyers, we will thoroughly investigate the situation and find out what happened that caused your crash.
Pursuing Compensation After a Drunk Driver Trucking Accident
After being injured in a truck accident caused by the trucker’s carelessness, you have the right to pursue compensation for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. This will require investigating the accident, gathering evidence of the trucker’s negligence, and determining liability. While it may be quite clear that the trucker driving under the influence was at fault for the accident, it does not make the trucker liable for compensating you. Many truckers are employees of a motor carrier. In this situation, the business may be responsible for the trucker’s actions and therefore liable for compensating you for your injuries.
During the personal injury claim, you can request compensation for your past and future:
- Medical expenses
- Wage loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of society and companionship
- Property damage, when applicable
Proving Negligence in Your Truck Accident Claim
If the trucking accident that caused your injuries was the result of the trucker operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then you may have a significant amount of evidence to prove negligence, including:
- The results of the trucker’s official breath, urine, or blood test
- The trucker’s administrative license suspension
- The trucker’s arrest for an OWI
- Official charges against the trucker for an OWI or related offense
- The trucker pleading or being found guilty of an OWI or related offense
- The trucker’s CDL disqualification
There may also be evidence from the trucking company that would help prove negligence, including if there is any documentation that the trucker had driven drunk before or failed alcohol or drug tests. Any records that show the company was aware of the trucker’s negligent or dangerous behavior could be additional evidence of the trucking company’s own negligence.
Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers for Help
A trucker driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is more likely to cause significant or catastrophic accidents. If you are currently suffering due to a truck accident and you need help holding the at-fault party responsible, give our personal injury lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC a call at (715) 343-2850.