Drunk driving accidents are often very serious or even fatal, and the chances of serious injury increase exponentially when the person driving under the influence is operating a commercial vehicle. Victims of these types of accidents may be surprised to find out that the tractor-trailer driver was driving drunk and wonder about how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations deal with drinking and operating a commercial vehicle.
While drivers can certainly consume alcohol when they are off duty, the issue becomes how long after they have had a drink are they allowed to resume working duties. According to the FMCSA, drivers are prohibited from drinking while performing any job duties and must have let at least four hours elapse between drinking alcohol and performing any safety-sensitive functions.
Safety-sensitive functions include more than just driving. Tractor-trailer operators must also not be under the influence of any substances while performing safety inspections on the vehicle or any other duties where a mistake could lead to someone else’s harm. The FMCSA regulations also prohibit companies from knowingly allowing drivers to perform any of these functions within the four-hour window.
If you have been involved in a truck accident where the driver was found to be under the influence of alcohol or another substance, you may be able to file a civil suit in the Virginia courts. While the legal system can seem intimidating, having an attorney on your side who is experienced in dealing with trucking accident cases can help you better understand your options and feel more prepared moving forward.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, “Controlled substances and alcohol use and testing” Dec. 08, 2014