Truck accidents are some of our roads’ most devastating and tragic events. Due to the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, collisions involving these vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries, extensive property damage, and even loss of life.

While many factors can contribute to truck accidents, one of the most egregious and preventable causes is when truck drivers drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a drunk driving truck crash, immediately consult an experienced truck accident lawyer near you about your rights and options.

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The Dangers of Impaired Driving in the Trucking Industry

Operating a commercial truck requires high skill, focus, and responsibility. Truck drivers must navigate large, heavy vehicles through busy roads and highways, often for long hours and in challenging weather conditions.

Even a momentary lapse in judgment or attention can have disastrous consequences when behind the wheel of a big rig.

When truck drivers choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk.

Impaired driving can lead to a range of dangerous behaviors, such as:

  • Swerving or drifting out of lanes
  • Failing to brake or yield in time to avoid collisions
  • Driving at excessive speeds or too slowly for conditions
  • Making improper turns or lane changes
  • Falling asleep at the wheel or experiencing other forms of impairment

The effects of drugs and alcohol on a person’s ability to drive safely are well-documented. Alcohol, for example, can impair a driver’s judgment, reaction time, coordination, and vision, even at low levels of intoxication.

Drugs, whether illegal substances or prescription medications, can also have an impact on a driver’s cognitive and motor functions, leading to drowsiness, confusion, and impaired decision-making.

In the trucking industry, the size and weight of the vehicles intensify the dangers of impaired driving. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and when traveling at highway speeds, it can take the length of a football field or more to stop.

An intoxicated truck driver cannot control their vehicle and respond to changing road conditions, increasing the risk of catastrophic accidents.

How Drunk Driving Truck Accidents Affect Victims

Road sign reading "D.U.I. DECIDE BEFORE YOU DRIVE" against a clear sky, promoting responsible choices to prevent driving impaired.

Drunk driving truck accidents can have devastating and long-lasting effects on the victims involved. These accidents not only result in serious injuries and financial losses but can also lead to wrongful death and permanently alter the lives of those affected.

Serious Injuries

One of the most immediate and obvious consequences of a drunk driving truck accident is the potential for severe injuries. The size and weight of commercial trucks can cause catastrophic damage.

Victims of these accidents may suffer from:

These injuries often require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, physical therapy, and rehabilitation, resulting in significant medical expenses and ongoing pain and suffering.

In addition to physical injuries, victims of drunk driving truck accidents may also experience significant emotional and psychological trauma. A traumatic accident can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.

The emotional toll of these injuries, coupled with the financial burdens and uncertainties of recovery, can greatly affect the overall quality of life for the victims and their loved ones.

Financial Losses

The financial losses from a drunk driving truck accident can also be overwhelming. In addition to the medical expenses mentioned earlier, victims may also face loss of income due to their injuries. Their injuries may diminish or even completely destroy their ability to work, resulting in lost earnings and future earning potential.

Furthermore, the cost of repairing or replacing their damaged vehicle, as well as any other property damage, adds to the financial strain. These financial losses can quickly add up, placing a significant burden on the victims and their families.

Wrongful Death

Tragically, drunk driving truck accidents may result in wrongful deaths. When a loved one dies due to the negligence of a drunk truck driver, the immeasurable impact leaves families devastated, emotionally shattered, and struggling to cope with the loss. In addition to the emotional pain, surviving family members may also face financial hardships because of the loss of income and the expenses related to funeral arrangements and legal matters.

In light of the serious injuries, financial losses, potential wrongful death, and the overall serious effects on the lives of the victims and their families, seek legal representation. A skilled truck accident attorney can advise you of all your rights and take the necessary action to begin the legal process.

Legal Consequences for Impaired Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Truck drivers who choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol face severe legal consequences, both criminal and civil. Most states hold commercial drivers to a higher standard than non-commercial drivers when it comes to impaired driving, setting lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits and harsher penalties for violations.

Under federal regulations, commercial truck drivers must not operate vehicles with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher, which is half the legal limit for non-commercial drivers in most states.

Truck drivers caught driving under the influence may face the following:

Criminal Charges, Such as DUI or DWI

One of the most serious legal consequences that truck drivers face when caught operating their vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol is criminal charges, such as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). These charges can result in significant penalties, including jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Most states apply harsher penalties to a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder convicted of a DUI or DWI than to a non-commercial driver. Due to the size and weight of their vehicles and the potential for catastrophic accidents, state laws hold commercial drivers to a higher safety standard.

For example, in some states, a first-time DUI conviction for a CDL holder may result in a one-year license suspension, compared to a shorter suspension for a non-commercial driver.

Repeat offenses or accidents involving serious injuries or fatalities can lead to even more severe penalties, including felony charges and long-term imprisonment.

Criminal charges for impaired driving can have a serious effect on a truck driver’s life and career.

In addition to the legal penalties, a conviction can make it difficult or impossible for a driver to find future employment in the trucking industry, as many companies have strict policies against hiring drivers with a history of drug or alcohol-related offenses. Drivers often lose their commercial driver’s licenses and much more.

Civil Liability for Injuries and Losses

In addition to criminal penalties, truck drivers who cause accidents while under the influence may also face civil liability for any injuries or damages due their actions.

While a criminal case aims to punish a driver for violating the law, criminal penalties often do little to address the pain and losses of drunk driving accident victims. Even if the criminal court orders the driver to pay restitution, the amount usually does not come close to the overwhelming losses truck accident victims face.

Instead, truck accident victims can take separate action to seek compensation from truck drivers and trucking companies.

Even though the truck driver was negligent, you can hold companies vicariously liable for resulting accidents.

  • Filing insurance claims – Injured accident victims or families who suffered wrongful death usually begin by filing insurance claims with all liable parties. A truck accident lawyer should handle every step of the insurance process, as insurers will try to minimize settlement payouts as much as possible. Even if the insurance company admits liability, adjusters might challenge damages and refuse to offer a fair settlement that covers your losses.
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit – If you do not receive a favorable settlement offer through insurance negotiations, your truck accident attorney can escalate the matter by filing a lawsuit in civil court. This is a separate proceeding than the criminal case against the truck driver. Your lawyer will follow court procedures and take the case to trial if necessary to fight for the full compensation you deserve.

Your attorney should be ready to do what it takes to obtain compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering from your accident-related injuries. If you lost a close family member in a fatal crash, they will seek all available wrongful death damages in your state.

Hand holding a breathalyzer with a drink and car keys in the background, emphasizing responsible driving choices.

In addition to seeking compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, your attorney might also pursue punitive damages against the impaired truck driver. This might be possible if the driver was extremely intoxicated or had a history of impaired driving. Punitive damages punish particularly egregious or reckless behavior and deter similar conduct. However, pursuing punitive damages requires litigation, so this factors into your overall legal strategy.

Truck drivers should be fully accountable for the harm they cause when they choose to drive under the influence. This accountability is not automatic, and victims must take proactive steps to seek the justice and compensation they deserve.

If you are in this situation, never wait to consult a truck accident lawyer and begin protecting your future.

What to Do If You’ve Been in an Accident with an Impaired Truck Driver

If an impaired driver causes a truck accident involving you or a loved one, take steps to protect your legal rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Some key actions to take include:

  • Seek medical attention: Even if you don’t think you’ve suffered a severe injury, getting checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident is crucial. Some injuries, such as concussions or internal bleeding, may not be immediately apparent. Prompt treatment can be critical for your health and your legal claim.
  • Report the accident: Call 911 or the local police to report the accident and request emergency medical assistance if needed. Be sure to tell the responding officers if you suspect that the truck driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Officers should conduct field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer if appropriate to determine whether to arrest the truck driver.
  • Contact an experienced truck accident attorney: Truck accident cases involving impaired drivers can be challenging. It’s important to have a skilled legal advocate on your side. An experienced truck accident attorney can navigate the legal process for you, gather evidence to support your claim and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. An attorney will work with you to investigate the accident, identify all potentially liable parties, and build a strong case for damages. An attorney can also handle communications with insurance companies and trucking company representatives, ensuring you’re not taken advantage of during a vulnerable time.

You do not have to determine how to seek compensation alone. You can focus on your medical care and physical recovery, leaving all legal strategies to your skilled truck accident attorney.

Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible.

Truck accidents caused by impaired drivers are some of the most devastating and preventable tragedies on our roads. When truck drivers choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they put themselves and everyone else at risk of serious injury or death.

If an impaired truck driver is involved in an accident with you or a loved one, seek the legal guidance and support necessary. An experienced truck accident attorney can hold the responsible parties accountable and fight for the justice and financial recovery necessary to move forward with your life.

Act quickly after a truck accident to secure the support you need. Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation and case evaluation. With the right legal team, you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery while your attorney secures the best possible outcome for your case.

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