Alcohol and Drug Abuse Truck Accidents
A truck accident can have heartbreaking consequences, leaving victims with catastrophic injuries, emotional trauma, and sudden financial burdens. Learning that the truck driver was intoxicated when the accident occurred only makes matters worse. If you suffered injuries in a Charlottesville truck accident caused by alcohol or drug use, Virginia law allows you to seek compensation for your losses.
The experienced truck accident lawyers at Kendall Law Firm understand how an impaired driver’s actions behind the wheel can impact victims’ lives forever. You deserve accountability and justice for what you have endured. Our dedicated attorneys provide comprehensive guidance to injury victims and demand maximum compensation from all potentially liable parties. With a proven track record of success and commitment to our clients, you can count on Kendall Law Firm to fight for the money you deserve.
Ready to get started? Contact us today for a free consultation with a Charlottesville truck accident lawyer.
What Are the Truck Driver DWI/DUI Regulations in Virginia?
Truck drivers in Virginia must comply with both federal and state DWI/DUI laws, including the following:
- State regulations – Under Virginia law, it is illegal to operate a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or more.
- Federal regulations – The Code of Federal Regulations for commercial motor vehicles includes several alcohol and drug-related prohibitions. A driver may not operate a commercial truck with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more. Furthermore, truck drivers cannot use alcohol while on duty, within four hours of coming on duty, or for eight hours following an accident until they take a post-accident alcohol test. Truck drivers may not use any drugs while on duty except those prescribed by a licensed medical professional that do not cause adverse effects to a driver’s abilities.
Can Truck Drivers Drink Off Duty?
Truck drivers can drink while off duty, but with certain caveats:
- Truckers are on duty when they begin work or when their employer requires them to be ready for work. A driver may be on duty while waiting at a plant or terminal to be dispatched, inspecting, servicing, or repairing the vehicle, loading and unloading the vehicle, and resting.
- Truck drivers cannot consume alcohol within four hours of reporting for duty. Remember, on-duty time begins when they begin working, not necessarily when they get behind the wheel.
- Commercial drivers cannot operate with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more. Depending on how much alcohol is consumed or how quickly the body metabolizes alcohol, BAC levels can remain elevated for many hours after drinking.
- A DUI could affect their ability to drive a CMV. If a commercial truck driver gets a DUI while off duty and driving a passenger vehicle, they could be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for one year under Virginia law.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Drunk Driver/Drugged Driver Truck Accident?
A drunk or drugged truck driver can cause accidents resulting in terrible injuries and staggering financial losses. In these cases, the truckers are often liable. Driving under the influence impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely and constitutes negligence.
However, other parties or entities may also bear liability in an impaired truck driver accident. Employers are often responsible for the negligent actions of their employees through the legal theory of vicarious liability. Furthermore, employers can be liable for truck accidents if they hire unqualified drivers, fail to comply with required drug or alcohol testing, or knowingly allow an impaired driver to operate a commercial vehicle.
How To Prove That Drugs or Alcohol Caused the Truck Accident
Proving that drugs or alcohol caused a truck accident requires solid evidence demonstrating the driver’s impairment at the time of the collision. Examples of evidence that an attorney may use to establish a connection between drug or alcohol use and a Charlottesville truck accident include:
- Accident report – Law enforcement officers at the accident scene often perform preliminary investigations, including assessing the driver’s condition for signs of impairment, conducting sobriety tests, and noting any observations related to drug or alcohol use. A police officer’s accident report is often valuable, objective evidence of driver impairment and negligence.
- Photos and videos – Photos and videos of the accident scene can help determine the cause and consequences of a truck accident. Physical evidence, such as open containers of alcohol or drug paraphernalia in the cab, can serve as compelling evidence in a personal injury claim.
- Post-accident drug or alcohol test results – Under federal regulations, employers must test a driver for drugs and alcohol after any accident that results in a citation and bodily injury to a person or disabling damage to a vehicle.
- Driver medical records after the crash – If the driver seeks medical attention after the accident, their medical records could demonstrate drug and alcohol use, including toxicology reports that provide specific information about the type and level of substances in their system.
- Black box data – Most commercial trucks have devices that track various data about the truck’s usage, including an electronic logging device to record the driver’s hours of service and an event data recorder that records the truck’s speed, location, and other movements. This data, sometimes called black box data, can provide critical information about the accident and illustrate how and why it occurred.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Drunk/Drugged Truck Accident Case?
If you suffered an injury and associated losses in a Charlottesville truck accident caused by a truck driver’s alcohol or drug use, you may seek compensation or damages for losses like:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of future earnings due to long-term disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Car repairs
Under Virginia law, a plaintiff may also recover punitive damages from a defendant truck driver if the plaintiff can prove the following:
- The driver’s BAC was 0.15 percent or more.
- The driver knew or should have known of his impaired abilities.
- The driver’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Contact Kendall Law Firm Today to See How We Can Help
Your path to healing and justice begins with a single step. Contact Kendall Law Firm today for a free consultation with a trusted Charlottesville truck accident attorney. With the help of our experienced lawyers, you can seek accountability from an impaired truck driver and pursue the compensation you deserve.