Federal safety regulators have declared a commercial truck driver from Idaho to pose “an imminent threat to public safety” and ordered him to immediately stop driving any commercial motor vehicles.
Justin Dennis’ troubles with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the law started in January of last year when he was subjected to a random test for controlled substances.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires random controlled-substances tests to be performed on holders of a commercial driver’s license.
The test administered to Mr. Dennis revealed the presence of methamphetamine in his body. The positive result for meth resulted in his mandatory and immediate disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle. Mr. Dennis’ employer terminated his employment upon learning of the drug test results.
Disqualified commercially licensed truck drivers who wish to drive a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle again must report to a substance abuse professional for evaluation – an immediate first step the FMCSA requires for commercial drivers. The FMCSA said Mr. Dennis failed to consult with a substance abuse professional and thus forfeited his opportunity to legally resume driving a commercial truck.
On Nov. 9, while still disqualified, Mr. Dennis was operating a commercial tractor trailer on Interstate 84 in Boise, Idaho, when his vehicle struck and killed a motorist who was standing near his disabled car, which had been involved in a single-vehicle crash.
Mr. Dennis told investigators that he had been taking methamphetamines in the days before the deadly Nov. 9 incident. Investigators also found that that he had exceeded both driving and on-duty hours-of-service limitations that restrict operating hours for commercial drivers to prevent fatigued driving.
According to the FMCSA, Mr. Dennis also told investigators that he was texting while driving shortly before the crash occurred.
The agency has not yet said what civil and criminal penalties Mr. Dennis faces for his actions.