An Overview of Post-Accident Drug Testing Legislation

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Buses, delivery trucks, tractor trailers, and hazardous materials transporters are all examples of commercial automobiles (CMVs). To obtain a commercial driver’s license, CMV drivers must complete additional licensing exams (CDL).

A truck’s owners, operators, and CMV carriers face a wide range of liabilities every time it hits the road, from the safety of their drivers and other road users to the integrity of the goods they are shipping. Before getting behind the wheel, commercial drivers are required to abstain from consuming alcoholic beverages or any other substances that impair their ability to drive.

Drivers involved in serious accidents must submit to post-accident drug and alcohol testing mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Because they cross state lines, commercial vehicles are governed by federal traffic regulations.

Here are the federal post-accident drug testing rules for commercial vehicle carriers and their drivers. Post-accident alcohol testing follows the same rules. Commercial DUI regulations can be found at FindLaw.com.

After an accident, who is subjected to a drug test?

Each commercial driver employed by a CMV carrier subject to FMCSA federal regulation must undergo a drug test before to employment. Carrier random drug testing of commercial drivers is also required and may be conducted at any moment during their employment. Post-accident drug testing of CMV drivers is another possibility. Here are a few illustrations:

Anyone who was engaged in car safety-sensitive tasks at the time of the collision;

An immobilized vehicle is required towing for any motorist who is cited for driving infractions within 32 hours of an accident resulting in bodily injury (and obtains emergency medical treatment away from the accident scene).

Post-accident alcohol tests are similarly subject to these conditions. However, due to the rapid metabolization of alcohol, the alcohol test must be completed within eight (8) hours.

Policies and procedures for post-accident drug testing

CMV carriers are obligated to undertake drug testing within 32 hours of an accident since the presence of drugs (as identified by metabolite detection) declines over time. Before they are allowed to operate a vehicle for the company, drivers must receive training on how to administer a post-accident drug test.

The findings of urine-based drug tests conducted by federal, state, or local officials are regarded FMCSA compliant if they are obtained by the employer and adhere to the norms of that jurisdiction. Post-accident drug testing may be allowed for drivers who have been subjected to the tests, but only if no additional limits have been imposed by law enforcement and if there is no reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired.

It is the responsibility of the carrier/employer to retain records if a drug test cannot be obtained within the specified time range. The FMCSA has the right to request a copy of any such documents. It is illegal for drivers to operate CMVs until the return-to-duty process is properly completed for those who fail or refuse drug tests.

Vehicle Crash Exemptions

Drug testing is restricted following a CMV collision. Post-accident drug testing, including but not limited to:

  • Passengers are boarding or disembarking from a stalled CMV (exiting).
  • While loading or unloading cargo from a stationary CMV, an accident that does not satisfy the criteria of a CMV occurs.

If you have doubts if the law is on your side or not and you are forced to take a test, contact a car accident attorney.