The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared California-licensed truck driver Dharm Lingam to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
On September 17, 2017, Lingam, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was operating a large commercial truck on Interstate 10 in Pinal County, Arizona, when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the median and collided with another tractor-trailer killing the driver.
Prior to the crash, the Arizona Department of Public Safety had received multiple 9-1-1 calls from motorists to report that Lingam’s tractor-trailer was being operated in an erratic and unsafe manner.
FMCSA’s investigation discovered that Lingam, at the time of the crash, had a medical condition that disqualified him from operating a CMV in interstate commerce under federal safety regulations. The investigation also revealed that Lingam had provided untrue responses to a federal medical qualification questionnaire he completed and signed on July 31, 2017.
On September 18, 2017, Lingam refused to provide a mandatory post-crash urine sample. Under federal safety regulations, refusal to provide a urine sample immediately following a fatal CMV crash is treated as a positive test result – and automatically disqualifies the individual from operating a CMV in interstate commerce.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Lingam’s continued operation of a CMV in interstate commerce “… substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death if not discontinued immediately.”
Failure to comply with the provisions of a federal imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for equitable relief and punitive damages. Civil penalties of up to $1,811 may be assessed for each violation of operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of the order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal penalties.
Lingam also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the Agency’s safety regulations.