Truck Accidents & Drug Testing in New York and New Jersey

big rig truckA transportation industry rife with drug and alcohol use is not a safe one. For this reason, federal officials developed safety regulations that apply to all drivers of commercial vehicles, including those who are employed part-time or as back-up drivers. Under rules set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), U.S. trucking companies are legally obliged to test all drivers before allowing them to operate an 18-wheeler, semi, or other commercial vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or more, or those that carry 16 or more passengers. In addition to pre-employment drug screening, truck drivers are also subject to random drug tests throughout the year.

The typical drug test screens for marijuana, opiates (narcotic pain killers derived from opium or codeine), cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines and Phencyclidine (PCP). The FMCSA established thresholds for each type of drug, and testing above these limits results in a number of consequences including an immediate substance abuse evaluation and possible removal from driving duties until successful completion of return-to-duty protocols with an appointed professional.

But what happens after a commercial truck accident in New York or New Jersey? Does the FMCSA have regulations concerning post-crash testing for controlled substances? Traffic safety officials require both drug and alcohol testing after most serious commercial vehicle crashes involving citation, injury or death.

Drug testing after a truck accident in NY and NJ

In minor crashes, in which no individuals or passengers were hurt or killed and damage to vehicles is negligible, the FMCSA does not require employers to perform drug tests on drivers of commercial vehicles.

However, more serious accidents that resulted in a fatality, disabling damage to any vehicle or personal injury resulting in a citation for the trucker, the regulations change. In any of these three accident scenarios, trucking company employers must administer the drug and controlled substance test within 32 hours of the collision. The test must be FMCSA approved and conform to applicable state and local requirements.

In the eyes of the FMCSA, refusal to submit to a drug test is an admission of guilt, and considered the same as testing positive for illicit drugs or prescription medications that impair driving abilities.

Truck drivers who test positive for drugs and/or alcohol or who refuse to submit to the test after an accident may face not only employment restrictions, but also legal action filed from those who were injured or lost a loved one.

How Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman can help

Despite strict testing requirements for CDL drivers, accident rates continue to climb on the heavily trafficked freeways of New York and New Jersey. If you or someone you love were injured in a truck accident, it’s in your best interest to seek legal counsel right away, especially when drug or alcohol abuse is suspected. The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has a long track record of successfully litigating commercial vehicle accident claims arising from drowsy, negligent and drugged driving.

To schedule a free case review with a truck accident lawyer in Bergen County or Rockland County, please call our offices toll-free at (888) 624-4916.

Additional Resources on “Truck Driver Drug Testing”:

  1. AllTrucking.com, Drug Testing at Trucking Companies: What You Need to Know http://www.alltrucking.com/faq/drug-testing-trucking-companies-what-you-need-know/
  2. FMCSA, Overview of Drug and Alcohol Rules https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/drug-alcohol-testing/overview-drug-and-alcohol-rules
  3. HIVE Health Media, Drug and Alcohol Rules for DOT Testing in NYC https://www.hivehealthmedia.com/drug-alcohol-rules-dot-testing-nyc/