What Commercial Truck Drivers Should Know About Alcohol

With roughly 500 commercial truck accidents happening a year due to alcohol intoxication, it’s critical for drivers, trucking companies, and self owner-operators to understand the risks and liabilities that come with the combination of alcohol and commercial truck driving. What are the regulations and consequences—and how can truck drivers protect themselves, other drivers, and their companies? Below we will explain everything from the legal blood alcohol level to helpful things that drivers can do to avoid drinking while working.

A Truck Drivers’ Alcohol Limit Is Cut In Half

Truck drivers are monitored much more closely than regular drivers, with good reason. They are handling a vehicle that is heavier, bigger, and more dangerous than cars. They’re responsible not only for the lives of themselves and others, but also for cargo and company property. Because of this, the maximum blood alcohol level while driving a commercial vehicle is .04%, while the limit is 08% for regular motorists.

Driving Regulations For Truck Drivers

FMSCA regulations state that a commercial driver cannot have any alcohol within four hours of going on duty or operating a commercial vehicle. “On duty” also isn’t just driving; it includes waiting at a loading dock, inspecting or maintaining their truck, loading and unloading, and repairing. Drivers aren’t allowed to drink or even keep alcohol in their cab, and if a driver seems to have consumed alcohol in the past four hours, he or she should be removed from duty for 24 hours.

RELATED – See Also:
Post-Accident Drug Testing Procedure 101
2017 DOT Compliance Checklist
Do Commercial Drivers Get A Drug Screening After Every Accident? 

What Happens When A Driver Is Found Intoxicated?

It’s never a good situation, and can create severe consequences. Even if the driver is simply driving their own car, it can damage their driving record and career. A driver is required to inform their employer immediately if they are convicted of a DUI or a DWI—again, even if they’re convicted while driving their own car. If this arrest becomes a conviction, the trucking company will not be able to allow the driver to work while the driver’s license is suspended. The truth is, for many truckers, a drunk driving conviction is usually followed by unemployment. Even once a driver has “done their time”, they often find it very hard to get work as drivers again. A DUI or DWI is a huge red flag to employers.

Not Worth The Risk

Because alcohol regulations are so strict for commercial truckers, it’s very important for drivers to understand that having that extra beer just is not worth it. It can cause expensive legal fees and huge disruptions in a driver’s life and career—not to mention the company they work for.

What Truckers Should Do

While on an assignment, even if a truck driver is off duty, sometimes it’s best to just avoid drinking altogether. For example, having a couple beers at dinner can easily turn into shots, which can cause intoxication into the next day. Or then there’s the mistake of thinking that you can have a drink because you’re off duty in your cab. But then what happens when someone backs into you, the police come out, and test you for alcohol? Even if a driver is within their blood alcohol level, it never looks good to have any amount of alcohol in the system. Instead of drinking, drivers should occupy themselves with other things such as reading, writing, exercising, catching up with phone calls, or watching a movie. These are are all great ideas. It’s never, ever a good idea to keep alcohol of any kind in the cab, as it can lead to temptation.

Drivers with a spotty past involving alcohol will need to be the most cautious, and may need to discuss this history with their employer. Remember, truck drivers have a big responsibility to others on the road, as well as their company’s reputation.

At Consortium Pool, we help trucking companies and self owned and operated truckers become compliant in order to stay within DOT regulations. If you’re looking for DOT programs and training, please contact us for more information.