Stating that his “continued operation of a commercial motor vehicle … puts the motoring public at imminent risk for serious bodily injury or death,” federal safety regulators took action to permanently take away the driving privileges of one commercial truck driver recently.
That’s to be applauded, of course, given that one dangerous trucker on any road in California or elsewhere is one too many.
But consider this: Prior to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s issuance of a shutdown order taking that driver off the road, his problematic driving behavior over many years certainly provided ample notice that regulators needed to act.
And much sooner than they ultimately did.
Here’s why. The trucker had his CDL suspended in 2007 in one state following what one recent media account of his case termed “multiple violations of DUI while operating a commercial vehicle,” Then, in 2012, he was stopped for another behind-the-wheel drinking incident in another state, having his license suspended again. And then, he was again convicted in that state a second time, being slapped with yet another license suspension.
Somehow, and despite the FMCSA’s observation that such a driving history demonstrates an unwillingness “to cease operating a commercial motor vehicle while using alcohol,” he was able to move to California, where authorities issued him yet another license.
That didn’t turn out well. The FMCSA’s shutdown order followed an incident that occurred in Illinois last month, where the California-licensed driver was stopped by law enforcement officials and subsequently determined to have a blood alcohol content of .308.
That is a stupefyingly high number, noted to be “nearly seven times the legal limit” in the above-cited media piece.
How could it be possible for such an unquestionably dangerous individual to continue to have his commercial license reinstated — and in multiple states — following its suspension for on-the-job drinking?
That’s more than a rhetorical question. A driver with multiple DUIs who continues to drive an outsized container of steel on the nation’s freeways while drunk is like a loaded gun that spells instant peril to all other drivers in close proximity to him.
Perhaps it’s time to review the regulatory scheme that oversees identification of problem truckers and disciplines them for the sake of public safety. No motorist is served by a trucker who can continue to be duly licensed after being convicted for drunk driving in multiple states.