According to rules set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a driver who is convicted of certain crimes, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or leaving the scene of an accident, can go back to work after one year’s suspension of his/her driver’s license. Federal law does not prevent drivers convicted of DUI from driving again.
US News reported on September 29, 2017 that a second violation may mean a convicted driver may be disqualified for life, although some people can be re-instated after a decade. Other lower-level infractions committed while in a personal vehicle do not count as a strike against a commercial license.
An incident in Queens, New York is evidence of some of the dangers associated with federal rules. Two buses collided on September 18, 2017. According to the police report, one bus barreled through a red light and slammed into another bus, killing the driver and two others. The bus driver going through the red light had a history of accidents and a recent conviction for driving drunk. He was allowed to drive the bus because under the federal rules he got one strike before being banned for life.
The Boston Globe reported that the bus driver who died in the Queens accident had lost his job as a New York City bus driver in 2015 after pleading guilty to an off-duty drunken-driving crash in Connecticut. Even though he was still serving 18 months probation, he got into another crash in his own vehicle in June 2016, neither wreck kept him from legally driving a bus again.
Are employers required to screen for prior convictions?
Peter Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, said companies are required by law to do a 10-year employment history check on drivers to see their performance history and also pull their motor vehicle records. New drivers also are required to pass a test. Private motor coach operators are not required by federal law to do a criminal background check on employees, though the rules differ for school bus drivers or anyone carrying hazardous materials.
While employers are required to test for drugs and alcohol, there is no way to prevent a driver who failed a test from quitting and going to a new company. There is no clearinghouse where companies can search a prospective employee's criminally bad driving record, according to Mr. Pantuso.
How does Florida law treat previously convicted commercial drivers?
F.S. 322.61 disqualifies commercial drivers from operating a vehicle for a year if they are convicted of operating a commercial vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher. If a commercial driver is convicted of two or more serious offenses (i.e., reckless driving, following too closely, unlawful speed of 15 mph or more over the speed limit, causing a crash resulting in serious injury or death, etc.) in a span of three years, the driver will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for 60 days.
“Both public and private commercial bus companies have a duty to protect the passengers they carry. Even if they may be in compliance with Federal law, they can still be held liable for negligence if they do not screen, supervise, and train their employees,” said Fort Myers Vehicle Accident Attorney, Randall Spivey. “If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus accident, contact our experienced attorneys at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.
Fort Myers Vehicle Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll-free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to Randall@SpiveyLaw.com. Visit SpiveyLaw.com for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County at 239.793.7748.