It is well known that driving under the influence of alcohol is a dangerous behavior. After a few drinks, a driver will experience impaired vision, reduced reaction times, drowsiness, dizziness, and an inability to follow traffic signals and laws. At nighttime, when most drunk driving accidents occur, impaired driving is especially dangerous.
Truck drivers operate some of the heaviest vehicles on public roadways. Tractor-trailers may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. If a truck driver does not have complete control over such a massive vehicle, the results can be deadly.
All 50 states have criminalized driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater. Depending on a driver’s weight and alcohol tolerance, the number of drinks it takes to hit the legal limit will vary. Stronger drinks, like liquor, will cause the blood alcohol content to rise much more quickly than a beer or glass of wine.
When a truck driver operates a truck under the influence of alcohol, it is also a violation of federal regulations. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has set a 0.04 percent blood alcohol concentration limit for truck drivers. Truckers are not supposed to operate their trucks if they have consumed alcohol in the last four hours.
Proving a truck driver was under the influence may require the use of a Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. The driver’s behavior prior to the accident may also be used.
Criminal and civil liability
A truck driver who drinks and drives may be arrested and either jailed, fined, or sentenced to community service. The truck driver may also lose his job or his commercial driver’s license, depending on the nature of the incident.
In addition to criminal liability, truck drivers may also face civil liability if they drink and drive and cause an accident. For a victim to recover damages from a truck driver, the victim must show that the truck driver violated a duty owed to the victim, which caused the victim harm.
Every truck driver has a duty to operate a truck in a reasonable manner. Drinking and driving is a violation of this duty.
Damages are the medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other harm that the accident causes to the victim. This element must be present for an injury claim to commence. If a truck driver has consumed alcohol but does not injure another person, an injury claim will not stand.
Even if criminal charges are not filed against a driver for an accident caused by drunk driving, a civil claim may still be pursued. Filing a civil claim is a separate process from pursuing criminal charges.
Contact our injury attorneys if a drunk driver caused your accident
If you were injured by a truck driver who was driving under the influence, contact the truck accident attorneys at Stein & Shulman today. During your free consultation, we will discuss your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, call us at (312) 422-0500.