FMCSA Regulations for Semi-Truck Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stipulates the precise rules for the operators of commercial motor vehicles such as large trucks, semi-trucks, and tractor trailer trucks.  Obviously, FMCSA has no tolerance rules for driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances, but how do they screen their drivers? What are the specific regulations for drivers who are at-fault in a crash? We’ll walk you through the FMCSA stipulations below.

Alcohol Concentration:

No driver can report for duty or remain in active duty requiring the performance of safety-sensitive functions while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. Similarly, no employer having knowledge of a driver with an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater can allow the driver to perform or continue to perform safety-sensitive functions.  Ultimately, drivers cannot operate a commercial motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.

On-duty Alcohol Use:

No driver can use alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions.  Similarly, no employer who is knowledgeable of a driver using alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions can permit the driver to perform or continue to take part in safety-sensitive functions.

  • No driver can report for duty or stay on duty requiring the performance of safety sensitive functions when the driver uses any illegal drug or substance.
  • No driver can report for duty or stay on duty requiring the performance of safety-sensitive functions when the driver uses any drug or substance except those that are pursuant to the instructions of a licensed medical practitioner, who is aware of the driver’s medical history and has advised the driver that the substance will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle in a safe matter.
  • No employer having any knowledge of a driver that has used a controlled substance or has been drinking cannot permit the driver to perform a safety-sensitive function.
  • Employers require drivers to inform them of any therapeutic drug use.

Pre-duty Alcohol Use:

No driver can perform safety-sensitive functions if they have used alcohol within the last four hours.  Similarly, no employer having knowledge that a driver has used alcohol within 4 hours can allow a driver to perform or continue to take part in safety-sensitive functions.

Driver Screening:

No driver can refuse to submit a pre-employment controlled substance test, a post-accident alcohol or controlled substance test, a random alcohol or controlled substance test, a reasonable suspicion alcohol or controlled substance test, a follow-up alcohol or controlled substance test, a return-to-duty alcohol or controlled substance test.  No employer can allow a driver who refuses to submit to these tests to perform or continue to take part in safety-sensitive functions.

Alcohol and Substance Testing:

No driver is permitted to report for duty, remain on duty or perform a safety-sensitive function, if the driver tests positive or has altered or switched a test specimen for controlled substances. Similarly, no employer having knowledge that a driver has either tested positive for or altered or switched a test for controlled substances cannot allow the driver to perform or continue to perform safety-sensitive functions.

  • Prior to the initial time a driver performs safety-sensitive functions for an employer, the driver must undergo testing for controlled substances.
  • No employer can allow a driver, who the employer intends to hire or use, to perform safety-sensitive functions unless the employer has received a controlled substances test result indicating a negative test result for that driver.
  • An employer does not have to administer a controlled substance test if:
  • 1. The driver has participated in a controlled substances testing program within the past 30 days; and
  • 2. While participating in the above mentioned testing program, that individual had to be either tested for controlled substances within the past six months (from the date of application with potential federal motor carrier employer), or participated in the random controlled substances testing program for the previous twelve months.
  • 3. The employer ensures that no previous employer of the driver that the employer has knowledge has records of a violation of this part or the controlled substances use rule of another DOT affiliated agency within the last six months.
  • An employer may, but does not have to, conduct a pre-employment alcohol test that complies with the following requirements:
  • 1. The driver must recieve a pre-employment alcohol test before the first performance of safety-sensitive functions.
  • 2. It must treat all safety-sensitive employees performing safety-sensitive functions the same for the purposes of pre-employment alcohol testing. Ultimately, a policy must be adopted that applies to all hired employees.
  • 3. It must conduct the pre-employment tests following the offer of a contingent employment contract, subject to the employee passing the pre-employment alcohol test.
  • 4. It cannot allow a covered employee to begin performing safety-sensitive functions unless the result of the employee’s test reveals a blood alcohol concentration of less than 0.04.

Following a Commercial Motor Vehicle Crash:

  • FMCSA states that "as soon as practical" following a crash involving a commercial motor vehicle driving on a public road, the employer must test for alcohol for each of its surviving drivers:
  • Who were performing safety-sensitive functions on the vehicle, if the crash involved a fatality; or
  • Who receives a citation within eight hours of the crash under local laws for moving traffic violations involving:
  • 1. One or more motor vehicles suffering damage as a result of the crash, requiring the motor vehicle to be transported away from the scene by tow truck
  • 2. Bodily injury to any person who, because of the accident, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the crash

The rules and regulations set forth by the FMCSA divulge a no tolerance policy for employees operating commercial motor vehicles. Pre-employment substance and alcohol tests are given, tests are provided at random, and following a crash, tests are similarly required. If you have been involved in a crash with a semi-truck, a tractor-trailer, or another commercial motor vehicle who was given a citation for driving under the influence, you may be entitled to significant compensation.  We invite you to contact a Missouri tractor-trailer crash lawyer today to discuss your potential personal injury case. Give us a call at 314.409.7060 or toll free at 855.40.CRASH.

Christopher Dixon

Personal Injury Attorney at The Dixon Injury Firm
Christopher R. Dixon is the managing attorney and founder of The Dixon Injury Firm. The Dixon Injury Firm has helped injury victims recover over $35,000,000 through verdicts, settlements and judgments. Chris is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and among their Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorneys. Recognized as a Lifetime Member of Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Chris aggressively fights for those injured through the careless, negligent and intentional conduct of others. Call today for a FREE consultation by calling 314-409-7060 or toll-free 855-402-7274.

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