Professional truck drivers have responsibilities as big as their tractor-trailers. Since any miscalculation has the potential to seriously injure other motorists, truckers are held to a high standard by both state and federal law. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires that all truck drivers be regularly tested for both drug and alcohol use. However, no authority can stop somebody from making bad decisions, even when such decisions often have disastrous outcomes.
When Truck Drivers Are Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Everyone knows that driving under the influence is dangerous. Nevertheless, each and every day, people get into the driver’s seat after having one drink too many. Truck drivers, unfortunately, are no exception.
While states are responsible for setting an acceptable, safe limit for how high a person’s blood-alcohol content—or BAC—can be when driving, the federal government sets the limit for truck drivers. In Missouri, the legal limit for most adult drivers is 0.08%, but the legal limit for truck drivers in Missouri and across the country is 0.04%.
Any truck driver who is caught with a BAC exceeding 0.04% will likely be cited and may have their commercial license suspended or disqualified, too.
The Dangers of Drugged or Drunk Truck Drivers
Anyone operating any type of motor vehicle is a dangerous driver if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Alcohol and many drugs can:
- Impair a motorist’s ability to react to ordinary road conditions
- Impair a motorist’s ability to react to unexpected obstacles
- Interfere with a motorist’s decision-making faculties and overall sense of judgment
- Cause drowsiness, or even unconsciousness
However, semi-trucks present a larger risk: when fully loaded, a tractor-trailer weighs around 80,000 lbs. This weight means it is much harder to stop a commercial truck than a motorcycle, SUV, or ordinary passenger car. So, when semi-trucks collide with other vehicles, the consequences can be severe—sometimes deadly.
Potential Accidents and Injuries
An intoxicated truck driver may be more likely to cause the following sorts of accidents:
- Left-turn collisions. When a trucker makes a left turn across an intersection without properly checking for oncoming traffic, they can cause a devastating crash.
- Head-on collisions. These can occur when an intoxicated truck driver drifts across the center line in traffic or merges onto the highway in the wrong direction.
- Rear-end collisions. A truck driver with impaired judgment and slowed reaction times could cause a rear-end collision by stopping too quickly or failing to stop in time.
Accidents involving commercial semi-trucks often lead to more serious injuries than accidents involving passenger vehicles. The potential injuries in a semi-truck accident include:
- Internal bleeding
- Broken or compressed vertebrae
- Traumatic head injuries
- Broken bones
- Organ damage
Finding Out If a Trucker Was Under the Influence
If you were hurt by a drunk or drugged truck driver, you should not have to pay anything out of pocket: not the costs of a car repair, hospital stay, or physical rehabilitation. However, proving that a trucker was under the influence at the time of an accident can be difficult—especially if the police did not check the at-fault driver’s blood-alcohol content.
A Missouri truck accident attorney can perform an intensive investigation to find out what the truck driver was doing before the accident. If they were drinking at a bar, spotted purchasing or consuming narcotics, or recorded driving in an unusual manner, this can strengthen a personal injury claim. We will also requisition the driver’s records and violations history to check whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence before.
Once we have gathered the evidence we need, we will determine who should be held at fault for the accident. While the truck driver will almost certainly be named a defendant, we may also be able to pursue damages against their employer and whichever establishment was serving the trucker alcohol.
Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Missouri?
If you've been injured in a truck accident, you need to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.