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What prevents truck drivers from using drugs and alcohol?

Commercial tractor-trailers provide an essential service by keeping our economy functioning. Many New Jersey businesses rely on semi-trucks to transport goods and materials in and out of the Garden State. Despite their utility, it's important to remember that these large and enormously heavy vehicles also hold the potential to cause death and serious injuries to other motorists.

Because of this potential risk the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now requires drug and alcohol testing of all CDL drivers who operate commercial vehicles. This means that anyone driving a commercial vehicle containing more than 16 passengers, including the driver, or vehicles weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds must be tested.

Although employers are allowed, and even encouraged, to test employees for all drugs the FMCSA requires testing for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines and methamphetamines, and phencyclidine or PCP.

FMCSA regulations require that employees are always subject to random drug testing. This means that a CDL driver might receive an unannounced request to undergo random testing even while they are off-duty and relaxing at home. Drivers are also required to report to a drug testing facility immediately after being notified. In fact, an unreasonable delay of time between notification and testing might be considered a refusal of the test.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the FMCSA testing regulations is that all potential CDL employees are required to undergo pre-employment testing for drugs and alcohol. Additionally, CDL drivers are required to undergo testing after fatal accidents and incidents in which they have been cited for an accident involving injury or vehicle-disabling collisions. Testing for alcohol must be completed within eight hours of these incidents. Testing for drugs must take place within 32 hours of the triggering incident.

New Jersey motorists have a right to expect that the drivers of commercial semi-trucks, motor coaches and delivery vans traveling next to them on the highway are free from drugs and alcohol. If you suspect that a drunk or drugged commercial driver may have been responsible for your accident you may be entitled to seek compensation through civil litigation. A New Jersey personal injury attorney with experience in truck accident cases can prove helpful to you in many ways. Your attorney can obtain drug and alcohol testing records of the driver involved in your crash.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Federal drug and alcohol testing- be a driver in the know," accessed April. 15, 2015

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