It is illegal in all 50 states for drivers to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, driving under the influence still happens. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26 percent of Nevada driving fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
Of the large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes, 3 percent had unacceptably high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs). While this number is significantly less than the drivers of other vehicles, when a commercial truck driver decides to drink and drive, the results can be catastrophic. Due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles, there is a much higher risk of accidents resulting in severe injuries or fatalities. Driving a truck is also much more complicated than driving a car.
It requires greater skill, and higher levels of concentration, than driving an ordinary passenger car, which makes a trucker operating under the influence even more dangerous than a drunk driver of a smaller vehicle. That is, in part, why Nevada has strict DUI laws for truck drivers, including a legal blood alcohol limit of just 0.04 grams (compared to 0.08 for ordinary drivers), and penalties that include loss of a commercial driver’s license (CDLs) for at least a year, and up to life.
The Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), requires DOT agencies across the nation to test their drivers for drugs and alcohol before employment and regularly thereafter. According to Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration regulations, a commercial driver is prohibited from alcohol use “within four hours of going on duty or operating a commercial vehicle.”
Drivers may not have alcohol in the cab of the truck. If a driver appears to have consumed alcohol in the past four hours, he or she must be placed off duty for 24 hours. If a driver fails a drug and alcohol test, or a trucker is arrested for a DUI, federal regulation requires the employer to prevent that driver from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Nevada Truck-Related DUI Law
The legal definition of commercial driver DUI in Nevada makes it a crime for someone with a BAC of 0.04 or above “to drive or be in actual physical control of a commercial motor vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access.”
- A first-time DUI conviction for a commercial driver will generally result in a CDL being suspended for one year. If the driver was transporting hazardous materials, the suspension will be three years.
- A second conviction will result in a lifelong CDL revocation. Even if a commercial driver was arrested for a DUI in a personal vehicle, if he or she was found with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above or was physically impaired by drugs or alcohol, both his or her regular license and CDL license will be suspended.
- A first offense carries a 90-day suspension for a non-commercial driver’s license, and a second offense carries a one-year suspension.
- If a CDL driver gets a DUI for driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.04 percent, but less than 0.08 percent, both their regular license and CDL will be suspended.
How Alcohol Use Affects Truck Drivers
A report from the medical journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine found that contributing factors to drug and alcohol use among truck drivers included the stresses of the job, the long hours that are often required, and space availability at rest stops. Though these are, perhaps, understandable factors, the human and economic cost of alcohol and drug use among truck drivers is simply too high to ignore.
Drug and alcohol use may affect a driver’s:
- Speed – The driver may drive either too fast or too slow.
- Depth perception – The driver may lose the ability to judge distance.
- Reaction time – A drunk truck cannot react to road hazards as quickly as a sober one.
- Vision – Alcohol can alter eye movement, eye muscle function, and visual perception.
- Tracking – Alcohol can decrease the ability to judge the car’s position on the road, awareness of other vehicles, road signs, or the center line.
- Concentration – A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol will tend to lose focus and to become drowsy.
- Comprehension – Alcohol can hinder the ability to assess driving situations and to recognize dangers.
- Coordination – Reduced eye/hand/foot coordination can be caused by drinking too much alcohol.
Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents inflict widespread damage, and the impact usually falls heavily on smaller vehicles. Common injuries from these catastrophic accidents include:
- Spinal, neck and back injuries. These injuries are often disabling and can have a long-term effect on a victim’s work and daily life.
- Head injuries. Brain trauma may range from mild to severe and are often life-altering. Brain injuries may not be obvious at first. Symptoms include headaches, cognitive impairment, nausea and loss of motor functions.
- Internal injuries. The force of a collision with a massive truck can cause internal bleeding in the organs. These injuries are serious and difficult to treat.
- Rib and torso injuries. Injuries to the ribs and torso can leave the body’s vital organs vulnerable to damage.
- Lacerations and burns. Cuts, lacerations, and burns can be extremely painful and leave the victim with terrible scars.
- Broken Bones The powerful impact of a truck crash often leads to multiple broken bones.
- Seat belt injuries. Seat belts save lives, but some seatbelt injuries can cause whiplash.
- Wrongful death A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury claim that is brought by the family or heirs of someone who has been wrongfully killed in an accident.
Seek Legal Help for a Truck Accident Involving a Drunk Driver
Complicated legal issues arise in a drinking and driving truck accident, and you have a limited time for filing a lawsuit. If you were in an accident with a large truck and you believe the truck driver may have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for the damages you sustained in the truck DUI accident. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney today to learn more.
Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101