I once handled a case against a company that hired a driver to haul gas tankers despite the DOT having pulled the driver off the road for drug use. I also tried a case that involved a company that turned a blind eye to a driver’s previous crystal meth convictions by discontinuing drug testing of the driver, who ultimately killed somebody – while high on crystal meth again.
Having witnessed numerous cases of negligence and abuse, I was encouraged by a recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration drug and alcohol sweep that resulted in flagging 287 truck drivers who were found to be driving despite a failed drug or alcohol test.
During the two-week sweep this spring, 200 investigators combed through drug and alcohol safety records and discovered a number of drivers who were still operating despite earlier failed drug and alcohol tests. Some simply switched employers in order to avoid penalty for previous infractions.
Among the 287 drivers were operators of school buses, charter buses, HAZMAT transporters and commercial tractor-trailers working for 128 different carriers. Those carriers, who too often are willing to disregard a driver’s previous positive drug or alcohol test result, also face sanctions from FMCSA. The drivers, meanwhile, will face fines or loss of their commercial driver’s license, according to the report.
Get strict with them, I say. Industry-wide, drinking and driving among professional truck drivers occurs less frequently than it does among the general public. Most truck drivers tend to be very cautious about this, and adhere to the federal law that sets blood alcohol concentration limits for truck drivers at 0.04. The BAC limit for the general public doubles to 0.08 in most states.
But commercial drivers who are caught drinking and driving must be pulled off the road immediately. Drug use by truck drivers is unacceptable. And the companies that are willing to keep putting those drivers behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle are no less liable, and are perhaps even more culpable.
Attorney Michael Leizerman is one of the nation’s leading advocates for increased trucking industry safety standards. To speak to Michael about an injury you or a family member has suffered, call 419-243-1010.