Federal laws limit truck drivers from driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .04. That’s half the legal limit for non-commercial drivers. Why? Because semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and other big rigs are capable of causing catastrophic accidents under regular conditions, before alcohol ever enters the equation.
Drunk truck drivers are impaired both physically and mentally. Their judgment, reaction times, muscle coordination, and vision are all compromised. In those situations, a large truck becomes a hazard in motion.
Were you involved in a collision with an intoxicated truck driver? Contact the Detroit drunk driving accident lawyers at Christensen Law right away. We have decades of experience helping Michigan residents get compensation for their injuries, and our track record speaks for itself. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients.
Get a free consultation by calling our Detroit office or by visiting our contact page.
Commercial Truck Drunk Driving Regulations
In addition to federal laws, Michigan has several regulations that penalize drivers who are found to be operating under the influence of alcohol, depending on the severity of the offense:
- Operating under the influence liquor (OUIL): BAC of .04 percent to .07.
- Operating while impaired (OWI): BAC of more than .07 to .10
- Operating with an unlawful bodily alcohol level (UBAL): BAC of more than .10 or higher
Drunk truck drivers can also be charged with OUIL, OWI, or UBAL in any accident that causes serious death or injury in Michigan.
Truckers can also be placed out-of-service for 24 hours if they:
- Refuse a preliminary breath test (PBT)
- Drink alcohol within 4 hours of a driving shift
- Consume liquor while driving
- Have a BAC of .015 at the time of the traffic stop
Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Truck Drivers
According to statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4.6 percent of large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in a recent year had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 percent or higher. That percentage has nearly doubled since 1998. In addition, 3.1 percent of truck drivers in fatal crashes that year had a BAC of .08 percent or above, a figure that has also doubled during the same time period.
In Michigan, the most current data from the state office of Highway Safety Planning shows that 31 commercial drivers involved in truck crashes in the state had been drinking prior to their collisions. Overall, there were 15,798 truck crashes involving heavy trucks or buses that year.
Who Is Liable After a Drunk Driving Truck Accident?
There may be multiple liable parties involved in your case if you’ve been injured by a drunk truck driver. While the truck driver will certainly bear fault for the crash, the trucking company may also be partially liable if they were not adequately monitoring the driver or if they did not properly screen the driver before hiring them (e.g., if they ignored or failed to see that the driver had previously been charged with drunk driving).
You may also have a claim against the restaurant or bar that sold alcohol to the truck driver. This is called Michigan’s Dram Shop Law and is another possible way to obtain compensation after the accident.
Can I Recover Compensation After Being Hit by a Drunk Truck Driver?
It is possible for crash victims to recover compensation from a drunk truck driver or other liable parties after an accident. Before you can file a claim against the truck driver or anyone else, you will have to go through Michigan’s no-fault accident system first.
Under state law, all Michigan drivers are required to purchase no-fault insurance that pays for their medical bills and lost wages in an accident, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. This coverage is known as Personal Injury Protection, or PIP.
Before you can file a third-party injury claim or lawsuit against a truck driver, you will first have to show that your injury meets Michigan’s serious injury threshold. This means that you have an injury that is visible to others, causes a serious impairment of body function, and affects your ability to carry out the functions of daily life. If you qualify, you can file a claim against the truck driver and any other liable parties. Your drunk driving accident lawyer can walk you through the process and place an appropriate value on your case.
Once you’ve exhausted your own PIP benefits and file a claim against the truck driver, you could potentially recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional trauma
Proving a Truck Driver Was Drunk
A wide range of evidence can be used to show a truck driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
- Police reports
- Toxicology results
- Photos from the accident scene
- Physical evidence, such as empty containers of alcohol in the cab
- Receipts showing that the driver purchased liquor during his or her shift
- Witness statements
- The driver’s logs
- Training records and proof that the employer conducted a background check
- Prior criminal record for OUIL, OWI, or UBAL
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney in Detroit at Christensen Law Help Me?
To obtain compensation in a third-party lawsuit against a drunk truck driver, you will first need to identify every party that could be held liable for the wreck. You will also need to establish that your injury meets the serious injury threshold. You will also need to take Michigan’s comparative negligence law into account. In cases where more than one party is at fault for the accident, the law says that you can’t seek compensation if you are greater than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
Getting help from one of the experienced drunk driving accident attorneys at Christensen Law will make the process much easier for you. We’ll investigate the crash, take over all communications with the liable parties, represent you during settlement negotiations, and fight to get you every dollar you deserve.
With so much at stake after an accident with a drunk truck driver, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Get your free case review by calling our Detroit office or visiting our contact page.