Driving a commercial vehicle can be a rewarding experience. Whether you drive long distances or around the Minneapolis area, you are providing a valuable service to individuals and businesses. Trucking also allows you to work independently outside of an office environment. You may get to meet new people and see different places every day.
Unfortunately, being a truck driver can also be lonely, exhausting and stressful. Like many truckers, you may enjoy unwinding with a couple drinks at the end of your shift. If you do, however, it is important that you understand the laws regarding alcohol and commercial drivers. Violating any of these laws, especially driving after drinking, may quickly put an end to your career as a commercial truck driver.
Facing serious consequences
Your commercial vehicle can be a deadly weapon even if you do not transport dangerous cargo. Even an empty truck may weigh three times that of an average passenger vehicle. This can greatly affect the amount of damage or the severity of injuries that can occur in case of an accident. For this reason, the regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for alcohol consumption for commercial truck drivers are much stricter than for non-commercial drivers, for example:
- The maximum blood alcohol concentration for a commercial driver is .04 compared to .08 for other drivers.
- FMCSA rules say you may not drink any alcohol within four hours of the beginning of your shift, even if you are not driving right away.
- In most cases, the FMCSA prohibits you from being near your vehicle after you’ve been drinking, including loading or unloading, inspecting it, repairing it, or waiting at a facility or terminal.
- You may not have alcohol in the cab of your truck.
- You may lose your commercial driver’s license if you are convicted of DWI even in your personal vehicle.
As strict as these rules are, your employer may have even more stringent policies. With the standards set so high, it is possible that even a single beer might place your future, your career and your freedom on the line.
You certainly do not want to learn firsthand how a DWI conviction may affect your livelihood and your family. If driving a truck is your job, you may do well to avoid alcohol and find other activities to relieve your stress. However, if you do find yourself facing alcohol-related charges, it is wise not to deal with these issues alone.