Trucking Companies' Post-Wreck Drug / Alcohol Testing Obligations
By: John A. Houghton
In the context of an unthinkable tragedy arising from a tractor-trailer wreck, it is important to note that motor carriers are required under 49 CFR 383.303 to have their driver submit to a post-collision alcohol and drug test if a citation was issued to the truck driver. If such an alcohol test is not performed within 8 hours all efforts at obtaining such a test should cease.
The burden is not on law enforcement to provide such a test, but rather the motor carrier. (law enforcement may also require testing) The rationale is that important evidence of the driver’s impairment can easily be lost through the lapse of time. Following a tragedy, it is important for the victim’s family to have an attorney-prepared spoliation letter sent immediately to the company to preserve testing records, along with records like driver’s logs, bills of lading, time cards, and other documentation that would demonstrate how long a driver has been on the road.
The motor carrier will be held responsible for dispatching an unsafe driver, and cases involving alcohol-related conduct, along with other factors of negligent hiring or retention of a driver give rise to punitive damages at trial.
Our team deploys experts immediately to inspect the vehicles involved in these tragedies, because so much evidence against the driver and the company is lost during the crucial period following a collision. The victim’s attorney is already playing catch-up with risk management and the defense team, so it is important to retain an attorney early in the process. We move quickly to preserve all evidence to maximize the family’s recovery arising from such a tragic loss.
We relieve much of the stress from the family involved in pursuing the civil matter so that the family can focus on their loved ones in this time of need. Trucking cases are not like normal auto tort cases, and our firm efficiently navigates through the complex federal regulations that other practitioners simply do not understand.
Every trucking case we take gets personalized attention as we lay out a unique strategy for litigating every different claim. We are not a volume practice, and we give individual consideration to each client we work with. Every client has Mr. Houghton’s personal cell phone number, and he can be reached day or night. And as always, our thoughts and prayers are with any affected family during this difficult type of situation.