Truck driving is among the key occupations of a sizeable number of Americans. It pays well and also allows for several perks. Many drivers start their own trucking businesses within a few years, thus helping to create jobs. The trucking industry helps to keep the economy moving by carrying raw materials to the manufacturers, and the finished goods to the markets and also ports for export.
At the same time, there are several responsibilities that the truck drivers have to keep in mind. And one of them is regarding consumption of alcohol, even while off duty.
After a tough day at work, it’s a common feature for many in the US to hit the bottle. However, for truck drivers, there are certain restrictions on drinking even if they are not behind the wheels. This has been necessitated by the several thousand alcohol-related motor vehicle accident deaths in the US every year.
Are Truck Drivers Allowed to Drink Alcohol While Off Duty?
Well, it’s yes and no.
Confused? Let us explain this further.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) says that truck drivers can guzzle while off duty. But before you say “cheers” to that, please remember that as a truck driver, you are required to maintain your blood alcohol limit within the permissible levels – that too, a minimum of 4 hours before you get behind the wheel. Because, as per legal provisions, the alcohol level in your blood shouldn’t be over 0.04% while you are on duty.
What Does “On Duty” Refer to?
On duty is not just when you are driving the truck. It also covers the period when the truck is getting loaded or unloaded, doing a thorough checking of the truck to ensure that it is trip-worthy, and conducting the necessary repairs.
While the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded, you can take a break. But you must be close to the truck so that you can come down if you are needed to. This is as per the guidelines of the FMCSA. If you need to be away from the truck for more than 30 minutes, you would need to take an approval from your supervisor. Check what types of truck driving jobs are available now a days.
But all is not lost! You can still enjoy your favorite booze while you are off duty. It’s just that you need to be aware of the terms and conditions.
So When Can Truck Drivers Consume Alcohol?
As a truck driver, you are not permitted to drive for more than 11 hours every day. And a day’s work (including driving) should not exceed 14 hours. That amounts to 70 working hours every week, followed by 34 hours of rest period.
You can consume alcohol after your daily shift is over. But you need to ensure that you have not drank up to at least 4 hours before being behind the wheel against. And you also need to maintain the permissible alcohol limit in your blood, as mentioned earlier in this article.
So, why take the risk? It’s much better that you drink alcohol during your rest period. Even if you go slightly overboard, you don’t need to be too worried as the rest period ensures that you can get the excess alcohol out of your system before you resume duty.
Can Truck Drivers Consume Beer in Their Sleepers?
Well yes, they can. However, there are conditions that apply here. You can enjoy your favorite lager in the sleeper compartment of your truck – but only if you have been off duty for a minimum of 8 hours before hitting the bottle. You also need to ensure that you are not resuming driving for at least 4 hours after consuming alcohol. And, you are maintaining your Blood Alcohol Content at 0.04% or less when you have resumed driving.
You need to remember that for up to 3 days after consumption, the alcohol stays in our system. Someone younger with a smaller physical structure can metabolize alcohol faster compared to an older and physically larger person. However, if you feel bothered by a hangover, go for hangover-eliminators like coffee, energy drinks like Gatorade, or any other sport drink.
Are Truck Drivers Permitted to Purchase Beer?
While you can’t drink while driving, you can surely purchase you favorite beer when you are making stopovers. But of course, you would need to keep it safely tucked away in the sleeper compartment till the time your duty hours are over. Also know what is forced dispatch that a driver might have to face.
Consequences of Driving Under Influence (DUI) of Alcohol
Well, this can be quite severe. If you get caught DUI, you face prosecution that can result in a fine of $2,000, a jail term of 180 days, and/or suspension of your truck driver’s license for up to 1 year. Apart from that, there’s always the risk of accidents leading to severe injuries and also death.
Also, be updated on your company’s policy of drivers drinking alcohol while off duty.
So, why take the risk? Enjoy your drink while you are off duty and be sure that you are completely fit to drive before taking over the steering again.