By: Tommy Eden, Attorney
On August 18, 2010 U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 109 commercial bus and truck drivers were removed from the roads and more than 175 carriers face enforcement actions as a result of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s annual drug and alcohol strike force sweep that occurred from June 21 through July 2. The 109 commercial drivers now face the prospect of a monetary fine and being barred from operating a commercial motor vehicle for failing to adhere to federal drug and alcohol regulations. As reported in a DOT Press Release, LaHood stated: “If you are a commercial driver or carrier operating in violation of federal drug and alcohol laws, we will remove you from our roadways,” said LaHood. “Parents deserve to know their children are being driven by bus drivers who are drug and alcohol free, and every motorist deserves to feel confident that the drivers of large trucks and buses are safe and sober.”
During the two week sweep, FMCSA strike force investigators examined the drug and alcohol safety records of commercial drivers employed by bus and truck companies, including school bus drivers, interstate passenger carriers, hazardous material transporters and general freight long-haul trucking companies. Their goals were to identify motor carriers in violation of federal drug and alcohol testing requirements and to remove from the road commercial truck and bus drivers who jump from carrier to carrier to evade federal drug and alcohol testing and reporting requirements. “FMCSA is committed to ensuring that only safe commercial drivers and carriers are allowed to operate,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “Our annual drug and alcohol strike force is just one of the ways we weed out those ‘bad actors’ and make our roads safer for everyone.”
Additionally, 175 commercial carriers face pending enforcement actions for violations, such as using a driver who has tested positive for illegal drugs and for not instituting a drug and alcohol testing program. Both drivers and carriers will have an opportunity to contest the alleged violations and the amount of the civil penalties.
Common Sense Counsel: There have been many changes in the DOT regulations over the past 2 years and more to come by October 1, 2010 with a change in cutoff level and the addition of ecstasy to the testing panel. Now is a good time to audit you entire DOT training and compliance program so you will not be the next headline.
Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-246-2901. Blog at www.alabamaatwork.com