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Motor Vehicle Accidents

Will the FMCSA create a clearinghouse for truck drivers who fail drug/alcohol tests?

February 19, 2015

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 5,260 accidents involving large trucks in Illinois during 2013. Officials are concerned about this data. To address the need for crash reduction, they have proposed a policy to create a database accessible by employers. The clearinghouse would contain all commercial driver’s license suspensions caused by failed alcohol or drug tests. A Chicago accident lawyer may be aware that this proposal has become part of a transportation bill in Congress. This is called the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

There were over 3 million random roadside inspections conducted by federal and state law enforcement officers in 2013. Of these, nearly 3,300 revealed drivers under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol. Truck drivers may be particularly susceptible to drug and alcohol use because of job-related stress and long hours on the road.

Purposes of the database

All commercial vehicle operators are required to take drug and alcohol tests. These occur before licensure and employment, at random, after a truck accident, and before returning to duty after a positive test. An employer must remove truck drivers from positions involving safety-sensitive tasks when they fail alcohol or drug tests. Failing results include a blood alcohol content of .04 percent or more, or a controlled substance present in the system. Before drivers can recover their licenses, they must complete a substance abuse program.

Currently, there is no single public record where the results of these tests are stored. This can make it difficult for employers to identify problems during potential employees’ background checks. A Chicago accident lawyer is often concerned that drivers who have unsafe driving records may still be driving. This causes hazards for everyone on the roadways.

Clearinghouse data and sources

The proposed clearinghouse would contain data such as test records and arrest records for drunk driving< or driving under the influence of illegal substances. The information would come from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • Commercial vehicle companies regulated by the FMCSA
  • Drug and alcohol testing laboratories
  • Medical review officers
  • Substance abuse professionals

Potential employers could easily access driver information about mandatory test refusal and return-to-duty process completion.

Crashes involving tractor-trailers are often more severe because of the size and weight of the vehicles. Victims of these accidents frequently have devastating injuries, permanent disabilities and high medical costs. Many times the collisions result in fatalities. A Chicago accident lawyer may be able to provide the legal advice necessary to receive compensation for damages, lost wages and pain and suffering.

If you have been injured in a personal injury or medical malpractice accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago accident and injury law firm of Cogan & Power at (312) 477-2500 to schedule a free case consultation, so that we can help you begin the process of recovery as soon as possible. If you cannot come to our offices in downtown Chicago, we will come to you. And because we take cases on a contingency basis, you will not pay any fee unless we get you compensation.