A study of large truck crashes by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that commercial motor vehicles get into over 141,000 traffic crashes every year across the U.S. The FMCSA also estimates that 48% of these crashes were caused by the truck driver.
Truck drivers can cause truck accidents in many ways, including by driving while intoxicated. A lawyer from Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys can help you pursue compensation for the injuries you suffered due to truck driver drug and alcohol use in Fort Walton Beach, FL.
How Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help After a Truck Accident in Fort Walton Beach, FL
Since 1990, the team at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys has represented injured clients in Florida against the people and businesses responsible for causing their injuries. Our Fort Walton Beach truck accident lawyers have over 60 years of combined legal experience fighting at-fault parties and their insurers for fair compensation.
If you get injured in a truck accident in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, our firm provides:
- Legal advice and counsel to tailor a legal strategy to your unique situation
- A reputation among insurers for negotiating aggressively for fair personal injury settlements
- A legal team with decades of litigation experience to advocate for you in court
Trucking companies and their insurers often have the money and size to drag out your claim. Contact Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation to learn how we can push them to resolve your claim on fair terms.
How Many Truck Crashes Result From Intoxicated Driving?
According to the FMCSA large truck crash study, about 4,000 truck crashes happen every year that result from a truck driver’s drug or alcohol use. These numbers make drug and alcohol use the least common cause of truck accidents among those included in the study.
This means that intoxication causes about 3% of the 48% of truck crashes where the truck driver is at fault, which is roughly equivalent to 1.4% of all truck crashes.
Okaloosa County, home to Fort Walton Beach, sees about 225 commercial motor vehicle accidents each year. Using the FMCSA’s estimates, you can infer that between three and four truck crashes happen every year in Okaloosa County due to intoxicated truck drivers.
How Drug and Alcohol Use Affects Truckers
Drugs and alcohol can:
- Dull a driver’s senses
- Make them sleepy
- Impair their judgment
Both the FMCSA and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) take drug and alcohol use by truckers seriously. State and federal trucking regulations try to prevent intoxicated driving crashes by creating a strict drug and alcohol testing program and imposing administrative sanctions for drug and alcohol use.
When crashes occur, intoxicated truckers can face criminal liability that can put them in jail or rehab. The truck driver and their employer may also face civil liability.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements
Federal regulations give trucking companies wide authority to require drivers to take drug or alcohol tests.
Times that may warrant testing include:
- During onboarding
- Upon reasonable suspicion
- After a truck accident
- When returning to duty after a drug or alcohol suspension
Testing can also happen at random. Trucking companies that fail to administer tests face administrative action by the FMCSA that could include a suspension of the company’s right to operate across state lines.
Drivers must take these tests. A refusal to take a test will result in a suspension from driving. The employer may choose whether to terminate the employee or move them to non-driving work.
In addition to the drug testing program administered by the trucking company, drivers must comply with FLHSMV’s licensing requirements. Under these requirements, a citation for driving under the influence (DUI) could result in immediate suspension of the trucker’s commercial driver’s license (CDL).
As with the testing requirements, license suspensions are meant to take truck drivers off the road before they can cause a truck accident due to their drug or alcohol use. But if a driver evades detection and causes a truck accident, they may face significant legal consequences.
Legal Liability For Intoxicated Truck Driving Crashes
A truck driver can face criminal charges for causing a drunk driving accident.
Florida law treats DUIs as follows:
- Property damage crashes are first-degree misdemeanors that carry up to one year in jail
- Injury crashes are third-degree felonies that carry up to five years in prison
- Fatal crashes are first- or second-degree felonies that carry up to 15 years in prison
In addition to criminal liability, the driver and the trucking company may also face civil liability. Employers are liable for the acts of their employees committed in the scope of their employment.
The trucking company might also bear liability for failing to test a driver visibly under the influence of drugs or alcohol or remove them from service.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced Fort Walton Beach Truck Accident Attorneys
You can suffer catastrophic injuries when a 40-ton commercial motor vehicle hits your car, pickup truck, van, or SUV. Contact Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys at (850) 863-5297 for a free consultation to discuss your truck crash injuries and the compensation you may be entitled to pursue under Florida law.