Drivers of passenger vehicle often feel intimidated when navigating traffic that includes 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. They wonder if the trucker can see them or if the truck is safe to be on the road. They may have concerns about the hazards in the cargo or worry if the truck driver is too sleepy to be driving. What they may not want to consider is whether the operator of the big rig has been drinking alcohol.
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration understands these concerns, and in light of the many accidents and high fatality rate involving commercial vehicles, the FMSCA has imposed stringent rules for truckers when it comes to alcohol consumption. If you hold a commercial driver’s license, you should be sure to know the rules you must follow to protect your license and the safety of other travelers.
No room for error
Those who possess a regular Class D license in Minnesota are prohibited from driving if they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. This amount is considered legally impaired, which means a driver’s attention, reflexes and decision-making abilities may be diminished. Diminished capacity in any of those areas when you are operating a tractor-trailer can result in devastation, so for CDL holders, the BAC limit is .04 when driving a commercial vehicle. Additionally, as a CDL holder, you must comply with the following restrictions:
- You may not consume alcohol in any amount within four hours of your duty shift.
- You may not have alcohol in the cab of your vehicle.
- You may not have alcohol in your system when you are loading or unloading your rig.
- You may not consume alcohol before or while making repairs or doing an inspection on your truck.
- You must notify your employer right away if you are convicted of an alcohol–related offense, even in your own vehicle.
It may be smart to avoid alcohol altogether when you are on a driving assignment to prevent any of the negative consequences, including the potential for involvement in a serious accident and the risk of the suspension of your CDL privileges. A conviction for a DWI may mean the end of your driving career. Even if the state suspends your license only temporarily, you may find it difficult to obtain employment with a conviction on your record.