Are Commercial Truck Drivers Required to Take Post-Accident Drug Tests?

Driving while under the influence is an irresponsible decision for which others often pay the price. If an intoxicated driver is behind the wheel of a commercial truck, however, the odds of a devastating accident happening increase considerably.

How often are commercial truck drivers drug-tested?

With this in mind, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires truck operators to be tested for drug use at specific times in hopes of reducing the number of accidents caused by impaired driving. These drug tests also help accident investigators determine whether a driver involved in a collision was under the influence.  

If you were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you could be entitled to pursue financial compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call our Virginia truck accident lawyers and schedule a free case review to discuss your situation.  

When Are Truck Drivers Required to Take a Drug Test?

According to the Department of Transportation, anyone with a commercial driver’s license is required to submit to alcohol and drug tests at various junctures during their employment, including:

  • Pre-employment: Prior to beginning work as a commercial vehicle driver
  • Post-accident: Applies to specific post-crash situations  
  • Random: Random drug testing is required by law for every DOT-regulated motor carrier
  • Reasonable suspicion: If a truck driver seems to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Return-to-Duty: Testing is required of any driver who has violated the law, refused a previous test, or tested positive
  • Follow-Up: Once a driver who has violated the law, refused a previous test, or tested positive returns to work, they are subject to follow-up tests

These requirements do not just apply to full-time commercial drivers. They apply to any and all international, intermittent, backup, and part-time drivers as well.   

What Drug Tests Are Commercial Drivers Usually Given?

The drug test most often administered to commercial truck drivers is the five-panel urine test. This will test the truck driver’s urine for:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Opiates, including any codeine or opium derivatives, such as heroin, morphine, oxymorphone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone
  • Amphetamines, such as methamphetamines and MDMA
  • Cocaine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Under What Circumstances is a Post-Accident Drug Test Required?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires post-accident testing if the accident resulted in: 

  • A death, regardless of whether the truck driver was issued a citation  
  • Physical injury severe enough to require emergency transport and immediate medical care but only if the truck driver was issued a citation  
  • Enough property damage to require the towing of a vehicle but only if the truck driver was issued a citation 

A drug test is not required after accidents that cause injury if the police do not see fit to issue a citation. Bear in mind that even if an alcohol or drug test is not required by law, the driver’s employer may still administer one. 

How Long Do Truck Drivers Have to Take a Post-Accident Drug Test?

Employers are required by law to test a driver as soon as is reasonable after an accident. 

The FMCSA says that tests for alcohol should be conducted no more than two hours after an accident. However, it is not always possible for a truck driver to present for testing in two hours. For example, if they get held up at the accident scene while the collision is being investigated.

Even if the truck driver took a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test at the scene, they still have to take an official alcohol test within the given time frame. This is because the tests administered by law enforcement officers at the scene do not meet DOT standards. If the driver is unable to take the test within the two-hour window, they have to submit an explanation in writing. Their employer will also have to write a note that explains why the two-hour deadline was not met and keep it on file. 

Drug tests have to be taken no more than 32 hours after the inciting accident. 

Once these deadlines expire, employers are subject to non-compliance fines and audits. 

Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys

Consulting an experienced Virginia truck accident lawyer is crucial after an accident. Freight companies, their insurers, and any other at-fault parties will do whatever it takes to avoid liability for a crash involving one of their drivers. You deserve a lawyer who has your best interests at heart and knows the best way to handle these types of cases. If you were injured by a commercial truck driver, call the Virginia truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774 and schedule your free consultation. 

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