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Federal agency takes the keys from drunk truck drivers

Truckers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are a deadly menace on Montana roads and throughout the nation. Late in June, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which enforces federal trucking regulations, announced it had taken 287 commercial truck and bus drivers off the road in its annual enforcement sweep, conducted in April and May of this year. Enforcement actions were also brought against 128 of the companies that employed the drivers.

Nearly 200 federal investigators examined the safety records of drivers working for various companies, including long-haul truckers, hazardous materials haulers and bus drivers. They were looking for evidence of violations of drug and alcohol testing requirements. They also kept a special eye out for truckers who move from one employer to another, in order to evade the testing requirements. The enforcement action should help reduce the number of truck accidents caused by alcohol and drug use in Montana and throughout the country.

The 287 drivers caught in the sweep now face monetary fines and the possibility of being banned from operating a commercial vehicle. The companies may also be facing fines and other sanctions if they employed a driver who failed a drug or alcohol test, or if they failed to institute an adequate testing program.

No one should have to share the road with an impaired trucker. The federal government does what it can to keep these truckers off the roads. In Montana, victims of accidents caused by impaired truckers also have the right to bring a civil action to recover for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other monetary damages. When the victim is killed in a crash, the family has the right to bring a claim under Montana's wrongful death statute. The claim is typically brought not just against the trucker, but against the company that employed the driver. An attorney can be your advocate and help you prepare that claim.

Source: fmcsa.dot.gov, "FMCSA Announces Results of 2012 Drug and Alcohol Inspection Strike Force," Candice T. Burns, June 25, 2012

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