The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared North Carolina-licensed truck driver Simranjeet Singh Sandhu to be an imminent hazard to public safety and has ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.
On March 27, 2017, at approximately 2:10 a.m., Sandhu, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was operating a large commercial truck along the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York County, New York, when he erratically switched lanes without signaling, striking a car and fatally injuring the driver and hospitalizing a passenger. Sandhu did not stop.
Approximately five hours later, police officers found Sandhu sleeping in his truck that was parked at a rest stop near Ridgefield, New Jersey. The vehicle had extensive front end collision damage with liquids dripping from the engine compartment.
Awoken by the police, Sandhu initially denied being involved in a motor vehicle crash; he later told police that the damage to his truck was caused by a rock he had hit as he was backing up. Police detected the presence of alcohol and Sandhu was subject to a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test; he failed both tests.
Police further found three CDLs, all in Sandhu’s name, from the states of North Carolina, Illinois and California; federal regulations only permit possession of one CDL.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Sandhu’s continued operation of a commercial motor vehicle “… substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and the motoring public 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.
Sandhu also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the agency’s safety regulations.