Over the past decade, the legal landscape for trucking companies has been rattled. The phenomenon of “nuclear verdicts” — colossal jury awards, often exceeding $10 million, are reshaping the dynamics of litigation. These mammoth decisions impact both plaintiffs and defendants. They place a particularly heavy burden on trucking companies that are facing rising costs across
As a new year unfolds, a significant regulatory shift from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) demands our attention, particularly concerning truck drivers and drug-use-related violations. This matter demands increasing attention as the sale of cannabis has become legal in many states, increasing the availability of the drug. Truck drivers are still barred from using the substance, but positive tests are expected to increase until the industry takes measures to counteract this trend.
The FMCSA’s Definitive Move: Understanding the Final Rule
The FMCSA’s final directive outlines a series of new mandates and is poised to take effect in late 2024. At its core, the rule stipulates that truck drivers testing positive for drugs not only face placement on prohibited driving status but also risk the revocation of their commercial driver licenses (CDLs). This uncompromising stance is embedded in the broader framework of the return-to-duty process, creating a comprehensive mechanism aimed at elevating safety standards across the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) sector.
Why change is coming
As of September 2023, over 149,000 drivers were in prohibited status, with approximately 76% yet to initiate their return-to-work program. This phenomenon raises crucial questions about the industry’s response to regulatory measures. It seems that many drivers opt to exit the profession instead of engaging in the return-to-duty process. This disconnect between regulatory intent and industry adaptation underscores the need for a nuanced and proactive legal approach.
Guidance amidst changes and challenges
Over half of all positive drug tests in trucking come from marijuana use, despite a zero-tolerance policy. As long as this challenge persists, regulators and industry leaders will try to adapt. For trucking companies, that means changes are on the way.
A statement from the FMCSA shed some additional light on the issue,
“…anecdotally, FMCSA routinely hears from individual drivers who report that hiring motor carriers often have zero-tolerance company policies and will not consider applicants who are in the return-to-duty process and require follow-up testing,”
Many trucking companies are understandably unwilling to hire drivers with positive tests on their records, fearing that this fact may be used against them in the event of a major accident.
In a shifting regulatory environment, Hughes Lawyers can offer crucial legal expertise. We are uniquely positioned and experienced to guide trucking companies through complex legal scenarios. Our comprehensive services extend across transportation law, employment law, and strategic legal counseling, making us your go-to partner in navigating the legal intricacies of the evolving regulatory landscape.
Legal Counsel for Your Industry
Hughes Lawyers is the optimal legal partner for trucking companies, offering specialized expertise in transportation and employment law. As difficult trends emerge and regulators attempt to address unintended consequences, trucking companies have to remain agile and prepared.
If you represent a trucking company or other large employer grappling with a legal challenge, reach out today and tell us about your case.