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The Dangers of Intoxicated Truck Drivers in Minnesota

Everyone knows just how dangerous drunk driving is these days. If you get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, you not only put yourself in danger, but everyone around you. It is common knowledge that alcohol slows down reaction times, reduces your ability to control your own body, and impairs judgment. Thankfully, Minnesota law has gone above and beyond trying to prevent this dangerous practice. The law wields fines and even jail time for drivers that get behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.

You would expect that it is only regular car drivers would be involved with such a dangerous practice as drunk driving though, right? Unfortunately, truck drivers are also occasionally prone to driving dangerously. When a commercial truck driver gets behind the wheel while intoxicated, they are not only putting lives in danger, but their own jobs. Unfortunately, drunk driving a multi-ton commercial truck isn’t as rare as you’d expect. Truck driving is occasionally boring work and drivers think they are much less likely to get pulled over by a police officer. They might be right on that count, but when it comes to drunk driving, the rules for commercial drivers are much stricter.

What are the Punishments for Trucking Under the Influence?

In accordance with federal laws, Minnesota state law limits commercial drivers to a maximum blood alcohol level of only 0.04%, half the limit of adult drivers behind the wheel of a car. If caught, they may not only face punishment through fines and from their employers, but it is also likely they will face a one year suspension of their commercial driver’s license (CDL). If they are caught under the influence twice in one lifetime, they will lose their CDL forever and forced to find employment less dangerous to the public.

Why are the regulations so much stricter for commercial drivers? The answer should be obvious. Commercial truck drivers are expected to be professionals, and professionals don’t drink on the job. This is why they are entrusted with vehicles that are much larger than the average car, because who would trust someone unprofessional with a vehicle that could do so much more damage in an accident?

What About Commercial Trucking Impairment Other Than Alcohol?

While truck drivers are prohibited from even having drinks on most jobs even four hours before safety-sensitive work, they also have an unfortunate reputation for abusing drugs like amphetamines. It is not always alcohol intoxication that may be impairing commercial truck drivers on the road. Due to tight deadlines, some truck drivers rely on amphetamines to stay awake for long hours on the road. While there have been restrictions to help cut down on drug abuse, like daily restrictions on how many hours a truck driver can be on the road and tracking their progress on the road, the abuse still happens.

As drugs can have the same impairing and intoxicating effects on commercial drivers as alcohol, drivers found to be using these drugs face the same harsh penalties as driving while drunk. A large number of truck drivers that are involved in fatal accidents are found to be somehow impaired by either alcohol or drugs. So commercial trucker drivers know just how dangerous these intoxicants can be.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from amphetamines is the reason for taking them in the first place – tiredness. If you have even been on a long road trip, particularly overnight, and spent more than eight hours driving on that endless road, you already know the toll it can take. Now imagine doing that every day for a few weeks. While truckers are required to stop and sleep, the road has somewhat of a hypnotizing effect. Not only can this drowsy effect be akin to intoxication, but it can cause negligent actions. Unfortunately, in these types of accidents, there is usually no one at fault because they are, in every definition, accidents. The only fault that can be blamed for such accidents is if the trucker decided to skip the mandatory hours of sleep, or off-the-road time, they are required to take each day.

Are Truck Drivers Only to Blame?

While you might not expect it, impaired truck drivers are not the only ones at fault for their accident. If a truck driver is involved in an accident while impaired, their employers may also be held liable. Commercial trucking companies have a responsibility to make sure their drivers aren’t drinking or using drugs while on the road, they are also responsible for making sure their drivers don’t have a history as such.

If you have been hurt or had a loved one killed in a drunk trucking accident, you have a wide array of legal recourse available to you. Not only can you assure that the trucker in question will never endanger other drivers on a road again, but the trucking company will also be held responsible. Hiring a competent lawyer will assure that you are given access to the hiring records, background checks, and other records to make sure that not only the trucker is punished, but the company that let them on the road in the first place as well.

At the Swor & Gatto Law Office we represent those who have been injured in commercial trucking accidents in Minnesota, no matter whether the driver was impaired or simply negligent. If you have been involved in a commercial trucking accident and find yourself needing representation, contact us today.