Are you on drugs? Do you think that’s a question that law enforcement could ask you after a crash? Truck drivers are large and thus important residents of the road. If you’re a truck driver and get in a crash, you’re likely not on drugs. But on the off chance that you are, you should know all about post-accident drug testing.
Not knowing your legal rights in this area could potentially ruin your reputation and career. Empower yourself by reading on.
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Post-Accident Drug Testing Laws
Most post-accident tests are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules. The FMCSA handles the most safety-sensitive workers.
As you may imagine, drug and alcohol testing after an accident helps determine if substance use or abuse contributed to an accident. The Department of Transportation mandates such testing in certain situations.
These situations are known as nurse, hearse, and wrecker. Nurse refers to an accident that caused injuries in need of medical attention away from the site of the crash.
Hearse refers to an accident involving a death. A wrecker is when at least one vehicle suffered enough damage to be towed.
If all three of those conditions apply to your crash, you still may not have to undergo post-accident drug testing. For example, if you’re found not negligent, you may not have to go through the post-accident protocol.
If and when it does come time to take a drug test, be prepared.
You’d have to undergo alcohol testing within eight hours of the accident. Drug testing has to be done within 32 hours.
If you can’t complete testing within those timeframes, you have to document and retain records explaining why the tests weren’t done in time. After a test is completed, you’re still allowed to drive while waiting for test results. That’s if law enforcement allows you to, of course.
The federal government only permits a DOT-certified collector to conduct urine tests and breath alcohol tests. A blood alcohol test can’t be required.
Don’t worry about hair testing being done after an accident. It would show long-term drug use but it wouldn’t show impairment at the time of the accident.
Your employer has to tell the Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) what type of test was conducted. They also must provide a reason to test and the Designated Employer Representative’s contact information. Finally, they have to specify if the DOT or another agency mandated the test.
A substance test after a crash can prove alcohol or drug use, but it alone can’t show that substance use caused the crash.
Prevention is the best medicine. Prevent substance use from ever causing a truck accident by driving your rig sober.
Sober, alert, text-free driving saves lives. But if you’re ever in an accident, you now know your legal rights in the realm of post-accident drug testing.
Discover your other rights in the workplace in the Business section.