If I Have An Accident Will I Lose My CDL?
Accidents happen every day on America’s highways. If you drive for a living the odds that you will have an accident are higher than the average worker. Your employer should tell you what to do in case of an accident, but you many want to keep this extra information on hand just in case. The answer to the above question is – it depends on the severity of the accident.
What Happens After An Accident?
The first thing that should happen is if you are able, dial 911 and request help in the form of the police and an ambulance if there are injuries. The police will make a report and then all drivers’ insurance companies will decide who was at fault. Sometimes both drivers are at fault. If that is the case a percentage is assigned to each party. Whether you are partially or entirely at fault, you might receive a ticket. Fines and license points are often higher for CDL holders so keep that in mind.
If you’re uninjured and able, follow these tips to ensure you have the situation covered:
- Put reflectors out straightaway to prevent any further liability issues
- Take pictures of the scene and write down as many details as you can remember about the accident
- File a report
- If your CMV has a dash cam system that’s certified admissible in court be sure to get a copy of the tape and ensure your employer has one, too.
- Get contact details from any potential witnesses if you can
Also, keep in mind that it can take awhile for the entire situation to be rectified, so be patient and do what is asked of you. If your employer or any other party involved decides to go to court over the accident then of course it will take even longer.
Will I Be Tested for Drugs and Alcohol?
The trucking company you work for will probably already have policies in place for what to do after an accident. It doesn’t matter if you’re at fault or not, you’ll be tested for drugs and alcohol. That’s just what happens after any accident in the industry. This way companies are legally covered.
If the test proves that you had unauthorized drugs or alcohol in your system at the time of the accident, it’s highly likely you’ll be terminated on the spot. You could even have charges brought against you for the damages you caused to company property as well as the other driver and passenger injuries and damages.
If your test comes up clean, good for you. You can now go on to the next step of the process. The next steps will depend on how bad the accident was, the damages caused and any ticket costs.
Will I Keep My Job?
If the accident was minor and there were no injuries then you will likely be able to keep your job. Employers understand that “civilian” drivers often cause problems without even realizing it, you are human capable of error, and due to so many unforeseen incidents accidents will happen, even to the most experienced drivers.
Offenses that will require you to give up your CDL and consequently lose your job are:
- Driving while under the influence
- Fleeing the scene of an accident
- Vehicular manslaughter
Even if you were not a trucker, you’d lose your license for the above offenses.
If you’re innocent of the three offenses above, then what happens to your job is up to your employer. If you’ve been an excellent driver with a spotless record, you will probably be fine. Be honest and cooperative during the entire process and that could help you keep your job as well.
Remember when you get ticketed it puts points on your license. The more points you have on your license the closer you are to having your license suspended. If you have a lot of points, your employer might want you to take a driving class to get rid of some of those points.
One accident doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your career. Be patient with the process and work with your employer to prove your integrity so you can get back to doing what you enjoy.