A survey by NIH revealed that in 2018, 20.5 million people drove under the influence of alcohol, and 12.6 million drove under the influence of drugs. The state of Georgia has a no-tolerance policy for drunk drivers and enacts strict penalties and fines for drivers caught with a blood alcohol level (BAC) above the legal limits.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimated that approximately 32 people are killed daily in DUI accidents. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse by truckers can wreak havoc on the road as they drive vehicles that weigh several times more than the average passenger vehicle.
Georgia Truck Driver Drug and Alcohol Laws
Driving with a BAC above the set limit can result in severe penalties because committing a DUI is a crime in Georgia.
If a person is below the age of 21 and driving with a BAC of 0.02% or more, they can be required to pay $1,000 as a fine and spend a year incarcerated after their first offense. In addition, teenagers 15 or younger who commit a DUI can get their license suspended until they reach the age of 17.
For a 1st offense DUI, people above the age of 21 can be required to pay a fine between $300-$1000, get their license suspended for a year, perform a minimum of 20 hours worth of community service, and can be sentenced to 1 year in jail.
It is illegal for truck drivers in Georgia to take any drugs that can influence their ability to drive. In addition, Georgia has restricted the usage of marijuana. For example, cannabis oil can only be used with less than 5% THC. The state prohibits marijuana from being used recreationally. The possession, cultivation, or usage of cannabis all have severe punishments under the law.
People who possess less than an ounce of cannabis can be charged with a misdemeanor, resulting in a $1,000 fine and one year of incarceration. Those who possess more than an ounce can be charged with a felony, facing 1-10 years in jail with a fine of $5,000.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Drunk Driver Truck Accident?
Truck drivers have the sole responsibility of driving soberly. They can be held liable for causing injuries by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The commercial trucking company can also be deemed liable by the court if the employer hired an unqualified driver, such as a driver with previous DUI convictions, failed to provide alcohol and drug screenings at the company, or did not do a full background check on the employee before hiring them. Proving liability in a drunk or drugged driving case can be complex without the help of an Augusta truck accident lawyer.
Alcohol and Drugs Abuse in Truckers
According to a study, around 19% of truckers in America binge drink and drive. Binge drinking is having five or more consecutive drinks, which can negatively impact the driver’s cognitive abilities and reaction time.
Although the FMCSA (Federal Motors Carrier Safety Administration) has mandated service hours for truckers, some trucking companies have employees working more than 11 hours a day or 70 hours a week to meet strict deadlines. Studies suggest that truckers who drive longer hours are more prone to developing depression, which can have additional risk factors such as needing to use psychiatric medications or alcohol to cope with the stress. Abusing these drugs can lead to impaired driving ability.
Recent analysis shows that more than 27.6% of truckers consume drugs. Drug usage is relatively high among truck drivers in the U.S. because it can help them stay awake for longer hours. In addition, some truck drivers rely on stimulants to increase their alertness.
The FMCSA has regulations to disqualify truckers who must take prescription (any habit-forming, anti-seizure, or methadone) drugs from driving unless a licensed practitioner prescribes those drugs and writes a statement that the driver can safely drive the truck.
Recoverable Damages for Accidents Involving Alcohol or Drug Use
If you have been injured in a crash due to the negligence of a truck driver, you can be entitled to compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit or settlement claim. You are welcome to contact our Augusta personal injury lawyer at T. Madden & Associates for legal guidance and representation in court.
To recover damages, you must gather evidence to hold the truck driver or their employer liable for your suffering. Generally, compensation granted to the victim of accidents involving alcohol or drug usage includes the following damages:
- Current and future lost wages.
- Medical expenses, including hospital bills, emergency treatment, ambulance costs, prescriptions, surgery, rehabilitation, and more.
- Pain and suffering: this is emotional and mental trauma due to the injuries sustained. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder or any mental disorder after an accident caused by disfigurement, amputation, paralysis, permanent disability, or loss of a loved one.
- The court can also award punitive damages if the defendant is found guilty of having committed a wilful disregard for other road users’ safety.