FMCSA bans Mexican truck driver from operating in the U.S. following multi-vehicle crash

FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a federal order prohibiting a Mexico-based truck driver from operating in the U.S. following a serious crash in Georgia in November.

The FMCSA says that truck driver Mario Alberto Leal-Salas was served a federal out of service order on January 2 with assistance from Mexico’s Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (Secretariat of Communications and Transportation). Leal-Salas held a U.S.-accepted Mexican commercial driver’s license (CDL) at the time of the crash.

The order was served following a crash that occurred on November 16, 2020, in Taylor County, Georgia.

Authorities say that Leal-Salas was was operating a commercial truck on Georgia S.R. 96 when he failed to stop for a red light at the intersection of S.R. 3, causing a chain-reaction crash and fire that left three people, including Leal-Salas, with serious injuries.

A post-crash investigation by the FMCSA determined that “approximately three weeks prior to the crash, Leal-Salas, who was then under consideration for employment by a different trucking company, tested positive for a cocaine metabolite, benzoylecgonine, during a mandatory pre-employment drug and alcohol screening. Any driver who fails any drug and alcohol test, or refuses to submit to testing, is immediately prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle, with that information recorded in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse – Leal-Salas’ drug test failure included.”

FMCSA regulations require that employers conduct Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse queries on all current and prospective employees prior to hiring and then once per year.

The FMCSA also discovered that Leal-Salas continued to operate a commercial vehicle after the crash — as early as December 4, and again on December 17 — even though he was prohibited.

The FMCSA says that they also uncovered multiple hours-of-service violations during their investigation.

FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Leal-Salas’ “blatant and egregious violations of the [federal safety regulations] and ongoing and repeated disregard for the safety of the motoring public … substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and motoring public.”