The commercial trucking industry is a major part of the U.S. economy, as over 70% of the freight is transported via truck. There are an estimated 3.5 million drivers serving the industry, most of which operate safely. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced that Jasmine S. Smith, who held a Pennsylvania commercial driver’s license (CDL), has been deemed as a hazard to the safety of the public and ordered to no longer operate commercial vehicles.
A federal order was served in April 2018 in response to a November 2017 incident where she was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). Smith is alleged to have struck another vehicle in the rear will operating a school bus.
Smith was arraigned in February in the Delaware County Common Pleas Court for a second-offense DUI. In addition, she was said to have been in possession of a Schedule 1 controlled substance at the time, and was also charged with endangering children. Smith had been found guilty of a first-offense DUI in a Philadelphia Municipal Court in September 2017. The FMCSA order states that if Smith were to continue operating commercial vehicles it would “increase the likelihood of serious injury or death.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is tasked with enforcing such suspension orders. Those who fail to abide to an order are subjected to various possible penalties, including punitive damages. Monetary penalties may be imposed in amounts up to $1,811 per day for noncompliance. In the event of intentional or willful disregard, the violator may also face criminal charges.
Those drivers who possess a CDL are subjected to mandatory testing for drugs and alcohol at certain times. They may be tested when the following occurs.
- They are involved in an accident resulting in a human fatality regardless of whether the driver was cited.
- They are involved in an accident that results in bodily injury requiring immediate medical treatment when the driver is cited.
- They are involved in an accident resulting in damage to a vehicle that requires towing when the driver is cited.
Drivers are subject to testing for drugs and alcohol at the following times.
- Before employment, in order to be permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
- Drivers may be subject to random testing at times during the year.
- When there is reasonably-based suspicion that a driver may be using drugs or alcohol.
- Drivers who had a prior positive drug or alcohol test may be required to submit to a test upon returning from a suspension.
- Those who have tested positive in a prior test may be required to submit to tests on a follow-up basis.
Accidents involving commercial trucks are likely to be of greater severity compared to those solely involving passenger vehicles. These trucks are significantly heavier, taller, and capable of delivering tremendous force in a collision leading to property damage and severe injuries. In accidents involving commercial vehicles, passenger vehicle occupants are the most likely to be fatally injured.
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