Data Shows Spike in Number of Truck Drivers Banned for Alcohol Violations


Even if you have never been behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler, you would not be shocked to learn that operating such a massive truck requires high level skills, extensive training, and exacting attention to detail. These are the reasons that Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders are held to a higher standard when it comes to drunk driving. Unfortunately, the data reveals some disturbing information about use of alcohol by large truck operators. The May 2021 Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Monthly Summary Report published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that more than 60,000 CDL holders were banned from driving for substance abuse violations. This figure represents those who were apprehended, so the actual number of truck operators who drive while intoxicated is likely much higher.


Alcohol impairs the capabilities of any motorist, but a truck operator who is drunk driving has the potential to cause catastrophic injuries. You should discuss your rights with an Alaska truck accident attorney if you were hurt, but some additional information on the threat of CDL DUI crashes is useful.


FMCSA Data on Alcohol and Drug Use Among CDL Holders

Initially, you should note that truck operators who are charged with a substance abuse violation are prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle until they meet requirements established by FMCSA. The number of CDL holders that were forced to go through the return-to-duty (RTD) process in May 2020 was 5.2%; in May 2021, 22.1% of truck drivers went through RTD. In addition:

  • Another 45,560 CDL holders are currently waiting to go through the RTD process after a substance abuse violation.
  • The number of truck operators sidelined for alcohol or drug abuse violations increases by around 2,000 to 3,000 every month.
  • From January 2020 through May 2021, 42,534 CDL holders tested positive for marijuana use.
  • The highest number of failed alcohol tests came under random test conditions, leading to the assumption that these drivers believed they could get away with being intoxicated behind the wheel.


Challenges With Truck Accident Claims

To recover compensation as the victim of a truck collision, you must show that the accident occurred because the operator failed to exercise reasonable care when driving. Obviously, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is solid proof of negligence. You could support your claim with evidence of a DUI arrest, BAC test results, or action by FMCSA. Still, there are numerous challenges:

  • Truck insurance policies cover losses in the millions of dollars, so insurers assign these claims to their most experienced employees.
  • You may also need to pursue an employer, trucking company, the owner of the rig, or other potential parties.
  • In any truck accident case, losses for victims are extreme because of serious, catastrophic injuries.


Get Legal Help From an Alaska Truck Crash Lawyer

For more information on your rights and remedies as the victim of a truck accident, please contact Power & Power Law in Anchorage, AK. We can schedule a free consultation to review your situation and discuss the legal process.