Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all states and comes with varying penalties, but this doesn’t stop some individuals from getting behind the wheel when they’re intoxicated. Drunk driving impairs a person’s judgment and motor functions, and drastically increases the risk of them getting into an accident and injuring themselves and others. Unfortunately, this applies to truck drivers, too. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, nearly 9,500 accidents each year on local roads are caused by drunk driving. Because the size and nature of trucks already make them inherently dangerous, truck accidents involving alcohol can be devastating. Dunk Law Firm is here to defend your rights if you were injured in a truck DUI accident. Our Memphis commercial OWI accident attorneys have recovered millions and can prove the at-fault party’s negligence to help you seek justice.
Some people might be confused with the various acronyms applied to alcohol-related accidents and arrests such as DUI (driving under the influence), OWI (operating while intoxicated), and OWVI (operating while visibly impaired), but all apply to instances in which a driver is operating a vehicle while drunk or on drugs.
In Tennessee, drivers with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) face stricter penalties when they are caught driving under the influence and/or cause accidents. A DUI is considered a major violation for commercial truck drivers that can result in them losing their CDL for one year if it’s their first offense; if it’s their second offense, they will most likely receive a lifetime disqualification. In addition to losing their CDL, truck drivers can also expect to face a variety of fines and required alcohol abuse treatment or counseling.
While Tennessee charges non-commercial drivers with DUIs if their blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent or higher, CDL holders can be charged if their BAC is at 0.04 percent. Truck drivers can be charged with DUIs if they’re found to be under the influence of any controlled substance – not just alcohol.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has conducted research to find that 85 percent of all surveyed truck drivers know that they can acquire methamphetamines at truck stops. Though truck drivers have been known to drive drunk, drugs are more common in the trucking industry because drivers will rely on stimulants to keep them awake during their long shifts. Truck drivers typically drive long distances and during irregular hours to make their deliveries on time, and fatigue is a common symptom among these types of workers.
Another study showed that up to 35 percent of truck driver fatalities had tested positive for illegal substances, and drug and alcohol abuse is the second leading cause of truck accidents.
Types of accidents that commonly occur when truck drivers are intoxicated include:
If you’ve been struck and injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk truck driver, it may seem obvious that they will be personally responsible for your damages. But what makes truck accidents complex is that truck drivers’ employers are also involved. Intoxicated truck drivers can be arrested, fined, and held responsible for damages after an accident, but the company they work for can also be held liable in some instances.
If the truck driver is considered an employee of the company, their employer may be held liable for their actions if they were on the clock at the time of the accident. However, independent contractors don’t have the same protections and their personal insurance policy will most likely cover damages after an accident.
It’s important you hire a truck accident attorney after your accident so you can have assistance in navigating complicated commercial vehicle laws and ensure that insurance companies don’t evade liability or attempt to withhold the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys are able to investigate your accident, interview witnesses, and access our years of experience in order to achieve your legal goals.
There are several ways that your legal team can go about proving that alcohol played a part in the truck accident you were involved in.
Commercial drivers are often required to pass drug tests in order to ensure they are not violating DOT guidelines. DOT drug tests test for the following:
Even if the truck driver has a doctor's prescription for any of the above drugs, they would still be violating DOT policies by using them while driving for work.