Recreational pot and truck drivers

The November 2016 elections saw California residents vote to legalize the use of recreational marijuana by adults 21 and over. Three other states passed similar laws, but drivers in every state should note that federal trucking regulations regarding impairment were not affected by the vote. Driving under the influence of any recreational drug is still illegal, a fact that professional truck drivers should remain aware of, experts caution.

Those who make their living behind the wheel of a truck should make sure they fully understand their employer's drug testing policies. Many truck driving companies have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to drug use, even legal drugs such as alcohol. Despite marijuana's new classification, it remains a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and the Department of Transportation is not expected to relax its stance on marijuana use by truck drivers who are on the clock.

Drug testing laws could change, but it would be a lengthy process, according to trucking professionals, and it seems unlikely. In 2012, marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington, yet drug testing laws for truck drivers remained the same.

While sources did not report whether there were more instances of truck accidents on U.S. roads following the 2012 law change, drug use is a major cause of deadly roadway collisions. In addition, semi truck drivers who are cited for traffic violations such as speeding or careless driving may face additional legal consequences, including fines and jail time, if they are found to be under the influence of marijuana. When impairment is a factor, occupants of other vehicles who are injured in a truck accident may find it advisable to obtain legal representation when seeking compensation for their losses.

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