Why Truck Drivers Get Drug Tested After an Accident in Texas

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There are 200,000 commercial truck drivers in Texas. That’s more than in any other state.

Trucking is highly regulated in Texas. Regulations include a prohibition on driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When an accident occurs and a commercial truck driver is involved, the truck driver may be drug tested. Why is that the case? Why do we test truck drivers after an accident?

The Haun Mena truck accident attorneys in Houston explain.

Why Do Truck Drivers Get Drug Tested After an Accident in Texas?

Truck drivers get drug tested after an accident in Texas to determine if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. Determining if substance use contributed to the collision is a critical part of any accident investigation. By understanding the cause of the crash, the fitness of the driver can be assessed along with measures that may prevent similar accidents in the future.

Why are there commercial transportation drug testing laws?

49 C.F.R. § 382.101 states that the purpose of commercial driver drug testing laws is to prevent accidents and injuries resulting from alcohol and controlled substances misuse by commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Laws for Drug Testing After an Accident

Texas laws for drug testing after an accident come from state and federal sources. U.S. Department of Transportation drug testing regulations are comprehensive, and they apply in all states, including Texas. The State of Texas adopts federal safety regulations and requires reports of positive tests.

Federal Truck Driving Accident Drug Test Laws

49 C.F.R. Part 382 regulates controlled substances and alcohol testing in commercial trucking.

The laws apply to licensed commercial drivers.

382.303 requires and regulates post-accident testing. The law says tests are required after an accident for anyone who:

  • Performs safety-sensitive functions for the vehicle if loss of life occurs.
  • Receives a moving-violation citation within several hours of the accident if there is a bodily injury requiring medical treatment.
  • Receives a moving-violation citation within several hours of the accident if there is a vehicle disabled by damage requiring towing.

A drug test is always required if there is a human fatality, whether or not the commercial driver receives a citation. When there is bodily injury or disabling damage to any motor vehicle, a drug test is required only if the commercial driver receives a citation.

  • 382.209 prohibits commercial drivers from using alcohol for eight hours after an accident or until they take their drug test, whichever occurs first. A driver must make themselves available for testing, or it may count as a refusal.

Cutoff Concentrations for Urine Drug Tests

Substance Initial test cutoff The substance tested in the confirmation test Confirmation test cutoff
Marijuana 50 ng/mL Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) 15 ng/mL
Cocaine 150 ng/mL Benzoylecgonine 100 ng/mL
Codeine, morphine 2000 ng/mL Codeine, morphine 2000 ng/mL
Hydrocodone, hydromorphone 300 ng/mL Hydrocodone, hydromorphone 100 ng/mL
Oxycodone, oxymorphone 100 ng/mL Oxycodone, oxymorphone 100 ng/mL
6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL 6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL
Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL
Amphetamine, methamphetamine 500 ng/mL Amphetamine, methamphetamine 250 ng/mL
MDMA, MDA 500 ng/mL MDMA, MDA 250 ng/mL

Source: 49 C.F.R. § 40.85

There are detailed procedures for conducting transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing, including following an accident.

State of Texas Truck Driving Accident Drug Test Laws

The Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Chapter 44 is titled Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. The law authorizes officials to regulate the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles.

Tex. Stat. § 644.251-252 states the following:

  • Employers must report positive drug and alcohol tests.
  • An employer must report a refusal to perform a drug test, adulterated specimen or substituted specimen.
  • Testing reports are confidential but may be released under Tex. Stat. § 521.053 relating to commercial driver’s license information.
  • A positive result is an alcohol concentration of .04 or more, or a drug level exceeding the cutoffs set by federal standards.

What is the penalty for violating Texas truck driving accident drug test laws?

Failing to comply with rules adopted for Texas commercial motor vehicle safety standards, including drug test reporting laws, is a class C misdemeanor. Officials may impose an administrative penalty under Tex. Stat. § 644.153.

What if testing isn’t mandatory for a commercial truck driver after an accident? Is there any way the driver can be drug tested?

You may be surprised to learn that drug testing isn’t required for commercial truck drivers who are not suspected of being at fault in an accident. The only exception is a fatal accident. When an accident causes a fatality, the truck driver must take a drug test no matter what. However, when there is injury or property damage — even serious injury or property damage — a drug test is only required if the truck driver is determined to be at fault and has received a traffic citation.

There may be a few other reasons that a truck driver is drug tested following an accident. If law enforcement suspects driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may require the driver to submit to testing.

In addition, the employer may require a test if they have reasonable suspicion to believe the person may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Reasonable suspicion must be based on specific, contemporaneous, articulable observations. (§ 382.307). An employer may also implement random testing, but the testing must truly be random. (§ 382.305).

What Does Drug Testing Mean for a Truck Accident Victim?

A truck accident victim should know the following:

  • The truck driver may have been drug tested following the accident.
  • Standards for alcohol intoxication are lower for commercial drivers – just .04%, while it is .08% for non-commercial drivers in Texas.
  • Proof of drug or alcohol use may make the driver at fault for the accident.
  • Drug testing is just one component of investigating a truck accident. Even if drug testing was not conducted, the commercial driver may be at fault for the accident.
  • If you are the victim of a truck accident, you may deserve financial compensation.
  • You have the right to have a truck accident attorney represent you. Having legal representation may be critical when you’re up against a big trucking company and its teams of lawyers.

Our Lawyers Can Help Your Case Against an Intoxicated Truck Driver

If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, we invite you to contact Haun Mena. Our attorneys represent victims, and we can use our knowledge of the law to ensure you’re treated fairly after an accident, seeking justice and the compensation you deserve.

Contact us to talk to a lawyer today and begin your case.

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