A conviction of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious issue for truck drivers -- but it's not just a problem for drivers themselves. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCSMA) holds trucking companies responsible for driving-under-the-influence violations, along with drivers. If you own a trucking company, here's how hiring a truck accident attorney before one of your drivers is in an accident could help safeguard your company from potential charges.
The FCMSA Has Requirements for Trucking Companies
The FCMSA clearly outlines what it expects trucking companies to do. While companies cannot physically stop drivers from using illicit substances or consuming alcohol, they can educate drivers about the risks and clarify the company's expectations.
Per the FCMSA's requirements, your trucking company needs to do the following:
- draft a substance abuse policy and give it to all drivers
- keep a signed statement from each employee that says they received the policy
- provide a minimum of 120 minutes of training to supervisors of drivers on controlled substances use and alcohol misuse (at least 60 minutes of each)
The FCMSA also outlines precisely what must be included in your company's substance abuse policy. It must have the following:
- when drivers must comply with your company's policy
- What circumstances warrant controlled substance or alcohol testing
- What happens if drivers refuse to cooperate with a test
- How controlled substances and alcohol can affect drivers
- Who will answer any questions that drivers have about your company's policy
Should your company fail to meet all of these requirements, and a driver be convicted of driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol, your company might be held responsible. Even if your company meets all of these requirements except for one, it might be deemed liable in a court of law.
Have a Truck Accident Attorney Draft a Policy
You can protect your company by hiring a truck accident attorney to draft a policy. Technically, any attorney who is in good standing with your state's bar can legally write up a policy for you. It's best to have an attorney who specializes in truck accidents do this, though, because they'll know what needs to be in the policy and how your company needs to disseminate the policy once it's written. They'll be able to write a policy up faster than an attorney who doesn't regularly deal with truck accidents, so you won't have to pay them for as much time.
Hire a Truck Accident Attorney to Answer Questions
You may also want to designate the truck accident attorney who drafts your company's substance abuse policy as the person who will answer drivers' questions. They are more qualified than anyone else to answer questions because they both specialize in the laws regarding truck accidents and wrote your company's particular policy. They'll likely know the answers to any questions drivers ask. On the off chance that they don't immediately know an answer, they'll know where to look it up.
To hire a truck accident attorney in this capacity, you can work out a retainer fee agreement with them. Retainer fees are common in the legal field. As Investopedia explains, a retainer fee is paid up front to ensure that the recipient will work for the payer. In this case, you may pay the truck accident attorney an agreed upon amount each month, and they may agree to make themselves available to your company for a certain amount of time each month. During this time, they can answer any questions that drivers have.
If your trucking company doesn't have a substance abuse policy, contact a truck accident attorney, such as those at Scherline And Associates. Ask them to draft a policy, help you get your company in line with the FCMSA's requirements and be available to answer any questions from drivers. Do all of this as soon as possible, so your company won't be held liable if one of its drivers is convicted of driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol.