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Regulations regarding trucker alcohol use

As many Massachusetts residents know, there are strict rules in place to prevent drunk driving and the dangers associated with it. What some may not know, though, is that truckers are held to a higher standard. Rules and regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration try to ensure that drivers of massive big rigs are not intoxicated, and punish those who fail to adhere to safety standards.

Under the FMCSA's regulations, a trucker is disallowed from operating his or her truck when he or she possesses a blood-alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher. In some instances, though, whether due to tight deadlines or lack of other truckers, employers allow a trucker with an unacceptable blood-alcohol concentration to drive. This act by the employer, too, is against regulations.

So what happens if a trucker and/or his employer fail to adhere to this rule? First of all, he or she could face civil penalties, meaning that they could be heftily fined. Second, they could face criminal penalties, including up to one year in prison. Third, breaking this regulation could seriously affect their ability to retain their CDL. Lastly, if a trucker who has a blood-alcohol concentration above .04 percent causes an injurious or fatal accident, then he or she may face additional civil liability through a lawsuit. The same holds true for a trucking company that breaks this rule.

And, sadly, despite the FMCSA's efforts, drunk truckers continue to cause truck accidents throughout the U.S. and here in Massachusetts. Those who suffer injuries in these wrecks, as well as those who lose loved ones, have a lot of physical, emotional and financial troubles to sort through. In these instances, it is often wise to fully consider one's legal options.

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, "Part 382," accessed on June 11, 2016

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