What is Actual Knowledge?

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What is actual knowledge in the trucking industry?

Truck drivers are never supposed to operate their vehicles while under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol. If an employer has actual knowledge that this has occurred, the driver should not be allowed to work in that condition.

But what does “actual knowledge” mean? This definition can be very important if there are accusations that the driver may have operated their vehicle illegally.

Types of observation

Actual knowledge means that the employer knows that the driver is under the influence. This knowledge can be obtained in a few ways, such as:

  • Directly observing the driver using those substances 
  • Seeing a traffic citation that the driver had in a previous occupation 
  • Getting documentation from a previous employer 
  • Having a direct admission from the employee that they use controlled substances or alcohol

One of the biggest distinctions to make is that this “actual knowledge” is not gained by observing physical characteristics the employee may have or behavior that they may be exhibiting that would warrant testing for these substances. After all, there could be a completely innocuous reason for the employee’s behavior. Someone who is heavily fatigued may act like they are impaired, for instance. Someone with a medical condition may exhibit similar symptoms. Therefore, seeing these characteristics cannot be confused with having actual knowledge that the employee has really used those substances.

It’s important for employers and drivers to understand how these laws work. If there are any allegations that a driver may have broken these regulations, especially if the employer is concerned about being accused that they knew this was happening and did nothing to prevent it, then it’s quite important for all involved to understand exactly what legal options they have at their disposal.