Contrary to popular belief, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations do not require post-accident drug and alcohol testing of commercial motor vehicle drivers in all instances. If the driver does not receive a citation, no testing is required unless a fatality results from the accident. Even if the driver is cited, no testing is required unless a vehicle must be towed from the scene or someone requires immediate medical treatment away from the scene.
If testing is required, alcohol tests must be given as soon as possible, but no longer than eight hours after the accident. If the driver is unable to get the test within two hours of the wreck, which is common, the motor carrier must maintain a record stating the reason for the delay. Drug tests must also be administered as soon as possible, but at least within 32 hours after the accident.
The Federal Regulations specify the particular drugs for which drivers should be tested, as well as the cutoff concentrations that trigger positive results. Therefore, the facility administering the tests should be informed of the purpose of the testing to ensure compliance with the Regulations.
Failure to comply with the testing Regulations will not necessarily raise a presumption or inference that the driver was intoxicated. Courts usually require independent evidence of intoxication. For example, when the failure to test is an innocent oversight, testimony from the investigating officer that the driver did not appear intoxicated, is typically sufficient to keep the issue out of a civil trial.