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The Law and Drug Use in Trucking: Knowing Your Rights

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Opioid abuse has reached an all-time high in the US. Unfortunately, the problem has become more of a crisis and has affected most industries and geographic areas within this country. Although, what should someone do when it affects their trucking business?

Recent studies have shown that those involved in fatal motor vehicle incidents tested positive for prescription opioids. Sadly, these opioids are particularly dangerous for truck drivers. They can cause drowsiness, slow reaction time and reduced alertness. To combat this, the Department of Transportation (DOT), created a new drug screening program. Thus, this program became effective at the beginning of last year. In contrast, what if a driver who previously passed a drug testing procedure can no longer do so? What if they begin over-utilizing or abusing opioids, or other potentially harmful substances? So, while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people who qualify for drug addiction it doesn’t protect everyone who uses drugs. Fortunately, it provides protection for those who don’t use drugs illegally and are receiving treatment for their addiction. Otherwise, like for those using illegal drugs, employees are not protected.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), any driver using any opium derivatives, opiates, hallucinogenic substances, and other “fentanyl-related substances” cannot operate a motor vehicle. These are considered “Schedule I drugs.” On the other hand, “Schedule II drugs” which require a prescription and the approval from a physician can be taken while operating a motor vehicle.

In, conclusion motor vehicle operators should review the FMCSR guidelines if taking controlled substances. Also, any employers who are unsure about a situation involving drug use should hire an employment lawyer knowledgeable on the FMCSR guidelines.

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