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Can Houston Truck Drivers Be Drug Tested After A Trucking Accident?

When you drive or operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you have a higher standard of liability. Whether it is the truck drivers that a company employs, what the company transports, the mechanical stability of the fleet, or the driver’s safety when they are in transport, there are many ways that a trucking company can be liable. That is why it is critical to hire a driver who avoids the use of intoxicants while driving.


When a truck driver is in an accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (the department that is responsible for the regulation of commercial drivers’ accidents) may require any driver to submit to a post-accident alcohol or drug test. There are a series of post-accident drug or alcohol testing procedures that are required of CMV drivers and their carriers.


Who gets tested after a truck driving accident in Houston?


Each CMV carrier is regulated by the FMCSA due to the “Commerce Clause,” and is required to run a drug test before they hire any new driver. It is also mandatory that any carrier periodically and randomly tests their drivers to ensure that they are drug-free throughout the time of their employment. If they are concerned about an employee’s behavior, the company reserves the right to drug test at any point of the driver’s employment. There are also times when a driver may be subjected to a test when an accident occurs. These circumstances include:


  • The driver was performing safety-sensitive functions, and there is a human fatality that resulted from the accident

  • If the driver is given a moving violation citation within 32 hours of the accident, and the driver received any type of “medical treatment” or one of the vehicles in the accident is rendered useless and has to be towed


The same conditions also may require that the driver submit to a post-alcohol test, but the alcohol test must be administered within eight hours after the accident, instead of the 32 allowed for drug testing.


What are the rules and procedures for post-drug testing?


When a person uses intoxicants, the drugs will pass through their system and be undetectable after a certain period, which is it is critical to test for drugs within the 32-hour time frame to obtain reliable results. After the accident, a truck driver is to be notified about the testing and be given the proper instructions of how it will  be administered. The testing is based on measuring the “metabolites" in the urine, and it can be ordered either through local, state or federal officials. Although the test is administered by a governmental agency, the trucking company can request a copy of the results.


During the time that the urine is being tested and results are being confirmed, the driver may continue to drive for the company as long as there are no other restrictions placed on the driver due to law enforcement suspicion related to the accident. If the employee is unable to submit to the drug testing within the given 32 hours, they must give cause. Those who refuse to be drug tested will not be allowed to drive until the accident investigation is completed.




There are exceptions to drug testing post-accident for CMV carriers. The rules and regulations only apply to those cars that meet the CMV classification, and don’t apply to anyone who is either onboard a CMV but not driving, or if they are stationary and not in transport while the accident happens.


If you are in a trucking accident and are being asked to submit to a drug test, it is a good idea to call a Houston truck accident attorney to know what your rights and responsibilities are. Never submit to any testing until you have consulted an attorney with your best interests at heart.

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