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Alcohol and Truck Driving: A Deadly Combination

Drivers of smaller vehicles sharing roads with 18-wheelers would never think that the driver of the truck beside or in front of them is sleepy or alcohol-impaired, unless there are obvious signs that would show these. Hundreds of data, however, show that many truck drivers were indeed either falling asleep, asleep, alcohol-impaired prior to an accident. As a matter of fact, with regard to use of alcohol and drugs by truck drivers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says that it actually is the second major reason behind truck accidents.

Drivers operating a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) exceeding 33000 lb, like 18-wheelers, also called big-rigs or semi-trailers, observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, and pick-ups, the BAC limit for commercial drivers is 0.04%. This means that anyone who will be caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

Big-rig drivers, however, have more to worry about than just having a 0.04% BAC level because those who will be found with a 0.02% BAC level can also be suspended from driving for about 24 hours, while those who will register a 0.08%, even when off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.

The need and desire to stay awake and alert in order to cover more road miles are what make drivers drink and continue to drive even while feeling the effects of alcohol. This is one of the saddest effects of getting paid by the mile (about .40 cents per mile). However, rather than making them awake and alert, alcohol will only make them sleepier and more impaired.

It is the duty and responsibility of drivers to always stay sober when operating their truck. Alcohol, though, will lessen their ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles they are driving, putting the lives of so many in danger because alcohol can result to:

  • Slowed and impaired motor control;
  • Inability to remain focused on the roadway;
  • Delayed reaction times;
  • Heightened risk of falling asleep; and,
  • Compromised judgment and decision making abilities

Any act in violation of the laws against drunk-driving can make truck drivers face serious criminal chargers, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for whatever injuries and damages their drunkenness might cause.

According to the law firm Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, despite everything they know about the inherent dangers of the vehicles they operate, the fact is that some truck drivers still choose to get behind the wheel while they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As difficult as these decisions are to understand, the consequences of accidents caused by intoxicated truckers can leave victims and their families reeling. Victims, therefore, should be ready to take legal action against the trucker responsible for their accident.

Read that Charlie wants to thank the Charleston personal injury lawyers of the Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group.