WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Montana-licensed truck driver Robert Schefflmaer to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
On October 18, 2017, Schefflmaer, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was operating a large commercial truck tank-trailer transporting hazardous material on Interstate 80 in Elko County, Nevada, when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the median and entered the opposing traffic lanes. The tank-trailer then became separated and overturned, causing a hazmat spill of approximately 51,000 gallons of ammonium bisulfite and partially blocking the roadway.
Schefflmaer was subjected to a mandatory post-crash drug test, which resulted positive for a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Federal and State regulations prohibit a driver who uses a Schedule I controlled substance from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
A post-crash investigation by FMCSA investigators found that in the two-week period prior to the crash, Schefflmaer had documented multiple serious violations of federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigued driving.
On November 1, 2017, Schefflmaer, while operating a large commercial truck trailer in Montana, again lost control of his vehicle, again overturning, and resulting in the deaths of approximately 20 calves that were being transported. Schefflmaer was cited and later convicted for careless driving.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Schefflmaer’s continued operation of any commercial motor vehicle “… constitutes an imminent hazard … 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.
Schefflmaer also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the Agency’s safety regulations.