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Protect Your Trucking Company With A Substance Abuse Policy

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Driving under the influence is a serious offense, and truckers who are in an accident while high or intoxicated are usually held responsible for any damage or injuries that result from the accident. They may not be the only ones held responsible for the accident, though. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also places responsibility on trucking companies. If you operate a trucking company, you need to protect your business with a substance abuse policy written by a truck accident attorney.

The FMCSA Holds Trucking Companies Responsible

Under the FMCSA's rules and regulations, trucking companies are required to educate their drivers and supervisors of danger that alcohol and drugs pose. According to 49 C.F.R. §382.601, trucking companies must do the following:

  • draft a written substance abuse policy
  • provide all drivers with a written copy of the substance abuse policy
  • train all supervisors on substance abuse through a program that lasts at least 120 minutes
  • keep signed statements from all employees saying they received a copy of the policy and any applicable training materials

Section B of the law lists no less than 11 specific items that must be included in a substance abuse policy. All of these will need to be in your company's policy, but some are worthy of particular note. You'll especially need to include the following:

  • when the driver is expected to be in compliance with the policy
  • circumstances that would justify drug or alcohol testing, including post-accident testing
  • the consequences of refusing to cooperate with a test
  • the effects that alcohol and controlled substances can have

Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help Draft Policies

When creating a substance abuse policy, few people are more qualified to help your company than truck accident attorneys. While any attorney who has passed the bar in your company's state may be legally allowed to write a substance abuse policy, a truck accident attorney, like those found at, will be uniquely qualified.

Truck accident attorneys spend their careers specializing in truck accidents. Whereas a general practice lawyer might have to look up the requirements of 49 C.F.R. §382.601, a truck accident attorney will be familiar with it and know what must be included in your company's substance abuse policy.

Even if a truck accident attorney costs more than another lawyer, it's worth paying for their expertise. After all, if your company's held responsible for an accident, the costs could greatly exceed any difference in attorney fees.

Your Truck Accident Attorney May Suggest Additional Steps

In addition to meeting the legal obligations listed above, a truck accident attorney may recommend taking additional steps to reduce your company's risk in the event of a substance-related accident. For example, they might suggest posting your company's policy in all offices and warehouses, training drivers as well as supervisors or obtaining certificates of receipt from drivers annually. These go beyond the requirement of the law, but they might help your company defend itself if a driver's ever found guilty of using alcohol or controlled substances while working.

Your truck accident attorney might also suggest keeping them on as a general retainer. Cornell University Law School explains that a general retainer is a fee paid to an attorney to ensure that they'll be available if you need them. While this suggestion does generate income for your truck accident attorney, it may also be a wise investment for your company. Should a driver ever be in a substance-related accident and your company need legal defense, the truck accident attorney who drafted your company's substance abuse policy will be the best person to defend your company.

If your company isn't in line with 49 C.F.R. §382.601, contact a truck accident attorney. They'll be able to draft a substance abuse policy that will protect your company. Without a policy, your company's exposed to significant risk -- not to mention breaking the law.