Truck Drivers and Drunk Driving


It is illegal in New York and throughout the United States for truck drivers – and all other motorists – to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, drunk driving among truck drivers happens often, costing innocent people their lives every day. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each day in 2017, nearly 30 people in the country died from drunk driving crashes. That breaks down to one person every 48 minutes.

In addition to being illegal, drunk driving is an extremely negligent and careless act. Any truck driver who harms another while under the influence of alcohol must be held accountable.

Why is Drunk Driving So Dangerous?

Alcohol is a depressant that impairs thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination, all of which are critical skills for operating a motor vehicle. Consumption of alcohol can negatively impact a truck driver in a variety of ways, including:

  • Concentration – Alcohol can cause drowsiness or may make it challenging to remain focused on the task of driving.
  • Reaction time – Alcohol can significantly affect a person’s reflexes, making it difficult for the driver to react quickly to changing situations on the road.
  • Coordination – Drivers who consume alcohol may experience reduced hand, eye, and foot coordination.
  • Vision – Drivers may experience blurred vision and can have difficulty with night and color perception after consuming alcohol.
  • Decision-making – Impaired drivers may make impulsive or irrational decisions, which can be particularly dangerous when behind the wheel.
  • Tracking – Intoxicated drivers often find it difficult to judge their vehicle’s position on the road, distance from other vehicles, the center line, and road signage or signals.

Because intoxicated truck drivers put themselves, other motorists, and pedestrians in significant danger, the federal government has taken measures to help ensure that truckers are held to stricter standards when it comes to drunk driving.

Drunk Driving Regulations On Truck Drivers

Every state has a blood alcohol limit of .08% for regular motorists, but for truck drivers with a commercial driver’s license, the limit is half that. Therefore, truck drivers can receive a DWI for a blood alcohol concentration of .04%. Drinking just one beer can potentially put a truck driver over the legal limit.

A commercial truck driver must refrain from drinking alcohol within four hours of going on duty or operating a truck, according to Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration regulations. Any trucker who appears to have consumed alcohol in the previous four hours must be placed off duty for 24 hours. Also, truck drivers are prohibited from possessing alcohol in the cab of the truck.

Activities that require total sobriety include:

  • Being in a commercial vehicle (except when resting)
  • Inspecting or servicing a commercial vehicle
  • Waiting at a terminal
  • Loading or unloading a truck
  • Repairing a truck

Trucking companies generally will have strict regulations related to alcohol consumption as well.

What are the Consequences for Truck Drivers Who Drink and Drive?

There are penalties for truck drivers who drive under the influence, including but not limited to:

  • Suspension or revocation of commercial driver’s license
  • Criminal fines and penalties
  • Jail time
  • Loss of job
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Civil liability for injuries suffered and property damage incurred by others

If a truck driver is guilty of drunk driving, the consequences are typically severe and long-lasting. Not only will they likely face criminal charges, but they may find it difficult to secure employment in the industry in the future.

Contact a New York Truck Accident Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. If the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol, you could be owed significant compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.

The New York and Long Island truck accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., have extensive experience helping victims of truck driver negligence, including a record $24 million-dollar settlement secured by Stuart Finz on behalf of a young mother and her two-year-old son.

Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys will provide the support you need during this difficult time as they fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to call Finz & Finz, P.C., today at (855) TOP-FIRM or fill out our free case evaluation form.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.