Drug-Related Truck Accident Attorney in Utah

The National Transportation Safety Board reports that approximately 35 percent of fatal truck accidents each year are caused by drugged driving. Driving under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Illegal drugs, over-the-counter, and prescription medications can impair a driver’s faculties. When that driver is operating a large commercial vehicle, the consequences of their impairment can be devastating. A commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds with a fully loaded trailer, which is large enough to cause severe, even fatal injuries in the event of a collision.

If you were hurt in an accident caused by a drugged truck driver, Swenson & Shelley PLLC can help you hold them liable. We can pursue the compensation you need for your medical treatment, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and more. You should not bear the financial burden of a crash that was not your fault. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Utah truck accident attorney with our firm.

Why Do Truck Drivers Take Drugs?

Unfortunately, truck drivers and substance abuse sometimes go together. Driving a truck is a hard job. Truck drivers are often on the road for many hours and hundreds of miles at a stretch. Many turn to drugs to:

  • Cope with stress – Working in the trucking industry can be stressful. Truck drivers must sit in a vehicle for long hours day after day, navigating through heavy traffic to make tight deadlines. Some drivers turn to prescriptions or illegal narcotics to cope with the stress.
  • Fight fatigue – Many truckers suffer from chronic fatigue caused by driving long periods without many breaks or enough sleep. Some take stimulants to keep them awake and alert at the wheel. Although these drugs might give them more energy, they can cause adverse side effects that negatively affect the driver’s judgment and driving abilities.
  • Manage pain – Sitting for too long can have serious health consequences, such as leg cramps, back pain, and ulcers. Truckers might use painkillers to minimize their pain so they can focus on their jobs. However, strong painkillers can cause drowsiness and other symptoms that prevent truckers from driving safely.

State Laws for Commercial Truck Drivers

According to Utah’s Uniform Commercial Driver License Act, anyone holding or required to hold a commercial driver’s license is prohibited from driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV):

  • While under the influence of a controlled substance, alcohol, drugs, or a combination of these
  • With 0.04 grams or higher of alcohol concentration in urine, blood, or breath
  • With a disqualified commercial driver’s license
  • After leaving the scene of an accident involving the CMV
  • After causing someone else’s death through negligent driving, including negligent homicide or manslaughter
  • After failing to provide reasonable identification or assistance after a collision that causes personal injury or death, using a motor vehicle to commit a felony, or refusing to submit to a chemical test to determine alcohol concentration

A truck driver who violates state law can be disqualified from driving a CMV for at least one year.

Federal Regulations for Motor Carriers

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), it is illegal for interstate truckers to drive under the influence of drugs or other substances that might impede their ability to safely operate vehicles. On-duty truck drivers can’t possess or be under the influence of drugs, such as:

  • Any derivative of a narcotic
  • Schedule I controlled substances
  • Any formulation or type of amphetamine
  • Other substances that can impede a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, including prescription drugs and marijuana, whether medicinal or recreational

The FMCSA regulates the drug testing of truck drivers. Truck drivers are subject to the following types of drug testing and rules:

  • Random testing – All truck drivers must undergo random alcohol and drug testing.
  • Drug screening – Drug tests must screen truckers for methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP), and amphetamines.
  • Drug test refusal – Refusing to submit to a drug test is equivalent to testing positive for drugs.
  • Accidents – Drug and alcohol screening is required for any truck driver involved in an accident while on duty.
  • Return-to-duty process – The Department of Transportation mandates a return-to-duty process for any driver who tests positive or refuses to undergo a drug test. Every motor carrier must impose its own process for an employee to pass a drug test, complete a treatment program, undergo an evaluation by a substance abuse professional, and submit to a documented follow-up testing schedule.

Penalties for Violating Federal Drug Testing Regulations

The penalty for a truck driver who tests positive for drugs is an immediate suspension of driving privileges. The trucker must participate in and complete a return-to-duty process with a substance abuse professional approved by the Department of Transportation.

Refusing to take a drug test is equivalent to a positive drug test result under federal law. The driver is prohibited from returning to their job operating a CMV until they complete the return-to-duty process.

Contact an Experienced Utah Drug-Related Truck Accident Attorney

Accidents caused by drugged truck drivers can be catastrophic and lead to debilitating injuries, particularly when large trucks collide with passenger vehicles. State and federal laws hold truck drivers to a significantly higher standard than non-commercial motorists when it comes to drug and alcohol use while behind the wheel. When truckers or their employers violate these laws, they put others at risk of serious harm.

The truck accident lawyers with Swenson & Shelley PLLC are committed to holding careless, reckless, and otherwise negligent truck drivers accountable for their mistakes. We have extensive experience advocating for the rights of those injured in drug-related truck accidents in Utah. Our legal team is prepared to work tirelessly to build a solid case in your favor, hold the trucker liable, and seek maximum compensation from them and their employer. We have the resources to tackle even the most challenging truck accident cases and are prepared to take on large corporations and insurance companies in our pursuit of the financial relief you need.

Contact our experienced Utah drug-related truck accident attorney today to learn more. Consultations are free and we work on contingency, which means we only collect a fee when we secure compensation for you.