Truck accident attorneys in Fort Myers recognize that the question at hand is whether a driver with a poor personal driving record should be allowed to maintain a commercial license, even if the violations occurred off-the-clock.
Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Florida Senate Transportation Committee, believes that it should matter, particularly in the wake of a semi truck collision on I-75 in Hillsborough County that resulted in the death of a 42-year-old BMW driver.
According to media reports, that BMW driver was in front of a semitrailer for ABC Fine Wine & Spirits sometime around 2:30 a.m. on a Wednesday. At some point, officials say the driver of the truck pulled out to pass. In doing so, however, the truck clipped the rear of the BMW, causing the semi-truck to overturn, spilling some 30,000 pounds of alcoholic beverages onto the highway. The car was sent careening off the highway bridge and into the Alafia River, which is about five feet deep. The driver was killed on impact.
The crash caused a massive backup that shut down that stretch of highway for several hours.
While traffic homicide investigators haven’t yet decided whether to charge the truck driver, what has drawn extensive attention is the trucker’s personal driving history. Reports are that the 30-year-old trucker has a troubled driving record that includes more than two dozen infractions over the course of just 10 years.
Of the 27 infractions he’d racked up during that time, only two were applied to his commercial license, and even then, those were non-moving violations. The other violations were issued for things like speeding and driving with a suspended license. In fact, his license had been suspended six times during that decade.
The trucker’s employer has so far refused to comment to reporters about either the crash or their driver’s record. However, it doesn’t appear, at least on the surface, that they did anything wrong, legally.
According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, a person’s past driving history doesn’t disqualify him from obtaining a commercial license. The only requirements to obtain a commercial driving license in Florida are a current operator’s license and passage of both written and vehicle tests.
Brandes was quoted as saying that regardless of who is ultimately found at-fault for this South Florida trucking crash, no commercial driver should be allowed to maintain a commercial driver’s license with that many infractions on his or her record.
Commercial driver’s licenses in Florida can be revoked for a number of reasons including:
- DUI (1 year)
- Driving while in possession of a controlled substance (1 year)
- Refusing to take a blood-alcohol test (1 year)
- Receiving two traffic violations within three years (60 days)
- Receiving three traffic violations within three years (120 days)
However, those suspensions are only applicable if the person was working at the time of the offense.
Frankly, it is common sense that a history of infractions on one’s personal driving record is going to come to bear on one’s driving patterns in a commercial vehicle. This is not to say that individual companies don’t monitor the personal history driving records of their employees. Many do. However, it isn’t required, and so long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue seeing cases where a quick look at a driver’s record will show he had no business behind the wheel of a big rig.
If you have been injured, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.