May 18, 2020

Pitts Carr and Alex Weatherby

Commercial Trucking Laws in Georgia

Commercial vehicles are subject to both federal and state regulations regarding interstate and intrastate trucking. This can make Georgia trucking accident cases difficult to navigate on your own.

If you have been in a commercial trucking accident with injuries in Georgia, contact the truck accident lawyers at Carr & Weatherby today. More than 50% of our practice is dedicated to truck accident cases.

We have crucial knowledge and experience in this area of law, and we are prepared to help you understand and handle your case.

What Constitutes a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)?

In general, vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more that are used as part of a business will be considered commercial motor vehicles subject to certain safety regulations. While most people regularly think of commercial vehicles as large semi-trucks, these are not the only vehicles subject to commercial vehicle regulations. These regulations may also apply to:

  • Single vehicles (trucks and vans);
  • Passenger vehicles carrying, or equipped to carry, more than 15 passengers;
  • Combinations of vehicles, such as a truck pulling a trailer or other equipment; and
  • Vehicles carrying hazardous materials regardless of GVWR.

Understanding what constitutes a CMV is essential in determining whether and what regulations apply.

Key Commercial Trucking Laws and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) governs interstate trucking operations. FMCSA regulations are set forth in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), Parts 300-399. While these regulations are extensive, there are certain requirements that come into play more often than others that are important to be aware of.

Licensing

Pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 383.23, a CMV driver must first obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before operating a commercial vehicle. In Georgia, the requirements to obtain a CDL include the following: 

  • Vision exam,
  • Written exam, 
  • Road skills test,
  • Medical certification, and 
  • At least 18 years of age.

Complying with the CDL requirement is important for anyone operating a commercial vehicle.

Operating Hours

A cause of some trucking accidents is driver fatigue. In an attempt to limit potential driver fatigue for commercial truck drivers, the FMCSA has put in place hours of service requirements. 

49 C.F.R. § 395 regulates hours of service for CMV drivers. For example, generally, drivers of a property-carrying vehicle may not drive a vehicle without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty. Further, generally, a driver may drive no more than 14 consecutive hours following the 10 consecutive hours off duty. The FMCSA also calls for periodic rest breaks under certain circumstances. 

Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance

Commercial vehicles, like all vehicles must be inspected, repaired, and maintained. The FMCSA regulations contain some requirements to ensure commercial vehicles are inspected and maintained.

For example, generally, commercial drivers are required daily written inspection reports on the vehicle. According to the regulation, these reports must include the following: 

  • Service brakes including trailer brake connections;
  • Parking brake;
  • Steering mechanism;
  • Lighting devices and reflectors;
  • Tires; 
  • Horn;
  • Windshield wipers;
  • Rear vision mirrors;
  • Coupling devices;
  • Wheels and rims; and 
  • Emergency equipment.

Drug and Alcohol Testing

Under the FMCSA, drivers are also subject to standards with respect to drugs and alcohol. 49 C.F.R. §§ 382.201-207 states that drivers may not report for duty with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.04, use alcohol while on duty, or perform safety-sensitive functions within four hours after using alcohol. 

With respect to drugs, drivers may not use controlled substances before, during, or after duty. Additionally, the FMCSA may require drug tests on drivers. These tests are generally administered under the following circumstances: 

  • Prior to employment;
  • After certain accidents; and 
  • At random intervals.

There are exceptions to every rule of course. You can read more about drug testing commercial drivers here.

How Violations May Contribute to an Accident

Whenever there is a truck accident, the applicability of the FMCSR will be important. If there is credible allegations of driver fatigue, drug or alcohol use, or equipment issues, the regulations discussed above may be in play. It is impossible to know how these regulations will affect your case, without an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney reviewing your case and the regulations in detail.

If you have sustained injuries in an accident with a tractor trailer, you need to contact a truck accident attorney. Likewise, if you are a truck driver and have been in an accident with injuries, you need to contact an experienced truck wreck attorney.

Contact Us Today

At Carr & Weatherby, we are experienced and accomplished truck accident lawyers. We have handled hundreds of truck accident cases in Georgia, and we are prepared to do the same for you.

We have recovered millions of dollars for injured victims, and we have also helped defend trucking companies and drivers. Regardless of your involvement in the accident, we know how to approach your case to get you the best result we can. Contact us today for your case evaluation and see how we can help you.