Impaired drivers of commercial trucks in interstate commerce

  1. Fatigue, illness, etc. 49 C.F.R. § 392.3 provides:"No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed."

  2. Hours of service. (1) Time. 49 C.F.R. §395.3 governs drivers' hours of service. "No motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle . . . [m]ore than 11 cumulative hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty," or "[f]or any period after the end of the 14th hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty," or for more than 60 hours in 7 days or 70 hours in 8 days. (2) Record keeping. 49 C.F.R. § 395.7 details requirements for logging all time driving, on duty not driving and off duty. Falsification of these logs is rampant and legendary.

  3. Drugs. 49 C.F.R. § 392.4 provides that "No driver shall be on duty and possess, be under the influence of, or use, any of the following drugs or other substances" including narcotics, amphetamines, or other substances rendering the driver incapable of operating a commercial motor vehicle, except under medical advice. "No motor carrier shall require or permit a driver to violate" this section.

  4. Alcohol. 49 C.F.R. § 392.5 absolutely prohibits use or possession of alcohol in operation of a commercial motor vehicle. "No driver shall . . . [u]se alcohol, . . . or be under the influence of alcohol, within 4 hours before going on duty or operating, or having physical control of, a commercial motor vehicle; or . . . [u]se alcohol, be under the influence of alcohol, or have any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol, while on duty, or operating, or in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle." Any driver is violation of this is placed in "out of service status" for 24 hours. "No motor carrier shall require or permit a driver to . . . [v]iolate any provision [of this section or] [b]e on duty or operate a commercial motor vehicle if, by the driver's general appearance or conduct or by other substantiating evidence, the driver appears to have used alcohol within the preceding 4 hours."