Concerns About the Increase of DUI Violations by Maryland CDL Holders
There is no question that drunk driving motorists create an extreme risk of harm to everyone on the road, but an intoxicated truck driver operating a massive rig has the potential to cause massive devastation. It is for this reason that holders of Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs) are held to a higher standard in Maryland for purposes of driving under the influence of alcohol — a truck operator can be arrested for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04%, instead of the default legal limit of .08%. The potential for tragic truck accidents is also the reason that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, which tracks violations by CDL holders. Unfortunately, data compiled by officials reveals some very disturbing trends:
- Through April 2021, drug and alcohol violations were on pace to exceed figures from 2020.
- There are more than 2.1 million users registered through the FMCSA Clearinghouse, each of which has failed at least one drug or alcohol test.
- From January 2020 to March 2021, there were almost 70,000 violations involving drugs and more than 1,550 involving alcohol.
- During the period from January 2021 to the end of March, there were almost 14,700 total drug and alcohol violations recorded through pre-employment screenings and random testing.
- In all of 2020, there were almost 56,000 combined violations of FMCSA drug and alcohol regulations.
Your life can be turned around by a DUI truck accident, so it is important to exercise your rights under Maryland law. You may qualify to recover compensation, though you should rely on a Baltimore County truck accident lawyer for assistance with the legal process. An overview demonstrates why there are significant concerns about the increase of drug and alcohol violations by Maryland CDL holders.
The Effects of BAC for Truck Drivers
Even a couple of drinks can lead a motorist’s BAC to reach .02% and cause diminished visibility. At .05%, an individual will suffer reduced muscle control, declines in coordination, and problems mounting a response to an emergency situation. Increases in BAC may result in short-term memory loss, inability to maintain lane position, and issues with speed control.
For a CDL holder operating a semi, tractor-trailer, box truck, or other commercial vehicle, these implications are even more serious. For instance, an inebriated operator may:
- Lack judgment in taking curves or turns too quickly with a heavy load;
- Not recognize a traffic threat or weather condition that would require special attention;
- Veer into other lanes or oncoming traffic;
- Fail to see smaller passenger vehicles;
- Neglect to properly inspect the truck; or,
- Not have the motor skills to manage the numerous, complicated systems it takes to operate a large semi or 18-wheeler.
DUI Cases Versus Civil Claims for Truck Accidents
A DUI arrest has multiple ramifications for a CDL holder. An intoxicated truck driver faces the same punishment for a criminal conviction, including jail time and fines. There are also sanctions related to the operator’s CDL credentials, such as an immediate “Out of Service” status and long-term license suspension. However, government officials will pursue charges and administrative remedies because a drunk truck operator poses a risk to public safety. Victims are not parties to these matters, even though they might act as a witness if the government needs help proving its case.
Still, punishment for the truck driver does nothing to compensate you for your losses as a victim. Instead, your remedies are civil in nature: As plaintiff, you are seeking monetary damages from the intoxicated truck operator as defendant. The upside to a civil proceeding as compared to a criminal case is that the standard of proof is lower: You must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common Injuries in DUI Truck Collisions
Victims of truck accidents will almost always suffer severe bodily harm because of the size differential between a passenger vehicle and semi, especially when the truck is fully loaded. When the truck operator is intoxicated, the destruction is more catastrophic. Even when a collision is imminent, a sober trucker will apply tactics and crash avoidance measures to minimize the damage. A drunk truck driver is not only more likely to cause an accident, but also less able to react.
As a result, victims sustain serious, catastrophic injuries, such as:
- Concussion and other traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Damage to internal organs;
- Amputation and decapitation; and,
- Broken bones, dislocation, strains, and sprains.
Steps in the Legal Process
Like other motorists, truckers carry insurance in accordance with legal requirements. Therefore, your first step will be filing an insurance claim. However, truck insurance coverage amounts far exceed the average driver’s policies, with regulations mandating at least $750,000 in coverage – or more for rigs hauling hazardous materials. Because the stakes are high, insurers assign their most experienced employees who are instructed to fight your claim. The company may deny payment entirely or offer a lowball amount to settle, so you may need to take your case to court to get the compensation you deserve.
You may be entitled to recover for such losses as:
- Your medical costs
- Lost income, if you were not able to work because of your injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Diminished quality of life; and,
- Implications for your personal relationships.
In a fatal DUI truck accident, surviving family members may qualify to recover amounts for how their loved one’s passing affects their lives. Examples include compensation for funeral and burial expenses, as well as lost contributions, guidance, love, and support that the victim would have provided.
Set Up a Free Consultation with a Maryland Truck Accident Attorney
If your life has been devastated by a truck collision caused by drunk driving or any other negligent party, please contact us to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with a member of our team. We can provide details on your options, compensation, and the legal process after reviewing your unique circumstances.