Officer’s death, marijuana use lead to driver being banned

February 25, 2022

Land Line Staff

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The death of a law enforcement officer at a roadblock has led to a Texas truck driver being declared an imminent hazard to public safety.

He has been banned from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has served Texas-licensed commercial vehicle driver Christopher M. Savannah of Houston with an imminent hazard order on Feb. 17.

The fatal injury accident occurred Feb. 3, according to an FMCSA news release. Savannah was operating a tractor-trailer on Interstate 75 in Loudon County, Tenn., when he failed to stop his truck upon encountering a roadblock. Sgt. Chris Jenkins of the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office had turned on the emergency lights in his patrol vehicle and gotten out of it to retrieve a ladder that had fallen onto the highway.

Savannah struck two vehicles stopped ahead of the roadblock and then struck and killed Jenkins, the FMCSA said. The driver of another vehicle sustained injuries.

Multiple traffic citations were issued to Savannah and the state of Tennessee has filed criminal charges against him.

Marijuana use was determined to be a factor in the collision. During the investigation after the crash, Savannah admitted to using marijuana the morning of the crash, and marijuana also was found inside the vehicle.

A drug influence evaluation conducted after the crash determined that he was under the influence of marijuana and not able to operate a vehicle safely.

Follow-up investigations by FMCSA found that Savannah previously tested positive for marijuana during a pre-employment controlled substances test on March 31, 2020.

Because of that, he was prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate and intrastate commerce and was designated as “prohibited” in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. His commercial driver’s license was also downgraded because he failed to maintain a current medical certificate as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

In addition, at the time of the crash, Savannah did not have a record of duty status for that date and the previous seven days as required.

Failing to comply with the provisions of the federal imminent hazard order banning a driver from interstate commerce may result in civil penalties of up to $1,951 per violation.  Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties.

Other recent imminent hazard orders:

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