Drivers, who are licensed to operate a commercial vehicle, such as buses and Class 8 trucks (these are trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) that exceeds 33000 lb, such as big-rigs, otherwise called semi-trailers or 18-wheelers, are required to observe a higher standard where alcohol intoxication limit is the issue. Compared to the 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level limit imposed on drivers of smaller vehicles, like cars and SUVs, the BAC limit on drivers of commercial vehicles is 0.04%. This means that commercial vehicle drivers who will be caught driving with this BAC level can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Getting caught driving with the 0.04% BAC limit, however, is not the only issue that big-rig drivers should worry about. Stricter than this BAC limit while driving is the lower limit of 0.02% BAC which will result to about 24 hours of suspension from driving. Additionally, those who will register a 0.08% BAC, even while off-duty, may still be charged with a DUI.
This strict implementation of the BAC level on commercial vehicle drivers is to ensure the avoidance of road crashes wherein trucks are usually the cause. Laws against alcohol-impaired driving are being strictly implemented due to the study results which show that truck drivers, many of whom drive for as long as 11 hours (with very short breaks) drink and/or take illegal drugs, thinking that these will boost them and enable them to stay awake and alert (truck drivers are usually paid by the mile; thus, the more miles they cover, excluding detours, the higher their take home pay). However, the only results of drinking alcohol and taking drugs are sleepiness, fatigue, and impairment.
As the Williams Kherkher law firm explains, truck drivers who cause accidents due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be held liable under criminal law as well as civil law. Thus, victims in truck accidents caused by intoxicated drivers may be able to seek financial compensation from the at-fault driver or from the trucking company where the liable driver is employed.
According to the Abel Law Firm, compensation may include:
- All related medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship/parental support
- Funeral expenses
- Wrongful death of a loved one
It is the duty and responsibility of a truck driver to always stay sober when operating his/her truck. Impairment will only lessen his/her ability to safely operate the huge and dangerous vehicles that he/she is operating, thus, putting the lives of many in danger. Any act that will violate the laws on drunk driving can make them face serious criminal charges, harsh penalties, and civil liabilities for whatever injuries and damages their drunkenness might cause.