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Drunk truck driver leads police on highway chase

Written by Steve Gursten Posted August 3rd, 2013

Trucker under the influence of alcohol and synthetic marijuana”spice” in Indiana highlights need for MAP 21 drug and alcohol clearinghouse

drunk truck driver leads police on highway chase

Our truck attorneys recently discussed some of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) provisions.  One of the goals under the Act is to establish a drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which would document and track drivers who test positive for drug and alcohol use.  This is something that must be pursued – and I recently came across a very frightening story that illustrates why.

According to a story on Fox59, Police: Swerving truck driver who refused to pull over was high on alcohol,”Spice,” a truck driver named James Foster, who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, led police on a dangerous highway chase. In early spring, the trucker was passing through Indiana and driving erratically.  The trucker passed alongside an unmarked police vehicle, swerved into the officer’s lane, and nearly caused a truck accident.  Shaken, the officer activated his emergency lights and pursued the semi-truck.

However, the truck driver refused to pull over, and led the officer on a highway chase.
Luckily, the officer was able to radio other state troopers who laid down stop sticks on the highway ahead. The trucker struck the stop sticks, which deflated his tires. The truck eventually slowed to a stop.  The truck driver was immediately arrested.

After his arrest, it was discovered that the truck driver was operating his semi-truck under the influence of alcohol, and synthetic marijuana called “spice.”

Mr. Foster has been charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and resisting law enforcement with a motor vehicle. Luckily, no other motorists, nor the officer, were hurt.

Clearly, this was a very dangerous situation.  Though this story is an extreme example, it is unfortunately very common to hear about truck drivers who are caught operating their semi-truck under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As an attorney litigating truck accidents for nearly two decades, I have seen far too many preventable crashes caused by truckers operating their big rigs while under the influence. These crashes should never happen – because nobody should ever get the behind the wheel while they are intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs – especially behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck.

Alcohol and drug use among truckers is too common and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) needs to take steps to protect people on the roads from these dangerous truck drivers. The proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse needs to be fully implemented to effectively regulate the profession.

Though there is resistance from certain interest groups, especially personal liberties advocates, the benefits of the clearinghouse far outweigh any drawbacks that may exist.  The clearinghouse will allow trucking companies to have a more accurate snapshot of a truck driver’s history before hiring them, putting them behind the wheel of a semi-truck, and in a position to potentially hurt or kill somebody.

Related information:

Trucking companies adding haircuts to their drug screening process

Staggering number of unmaintained trucks is only the tip of the iceberg

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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