Truck driver from Mexico declared imminent hazard

January 8, 2021

Land Line Staff


A Mexico-licensed commercial driver involved in a multiple-vehicle crash in Georgia while prohibited from driving has been declared an imminent hazard to the public.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says Mario Alberto Leal-Salas is prohibited from operating any commercial motor vehicle in the United States. The U.S. federal imminent hazard order was served Jan. 2 with the assistance of Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, according to a news release.

The collision occurred Nov. 16 while Leal-Salas was operating a commercial truck on Route 96 in Taylor County, Ga. He failed to stop for a red traffic light at the intersection of Georgia Route 3, which caused a chain-reaction crash and fire.

Three people, including Leal-Salas, suffered severe injuries.

Leal-Salas held a U.S.-accepted Mexican commercial driver’s license and was at the time employed by Laredo, Texas-based W. Freight Services LLC (U.S. DOT No. 3082519).

An investigation by FMCSA found that about 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 a drug and alcohol test, or refuses to submit to testing, is immediately prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle, and that information is recorded in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Under FMCSA regulations, prospective and current employers are required to conduct queries on all of their CDL holders at least annually to keep prohibited individuals from continuing to operate commercial vehicles on U.S. roadways. Law enforcement personnel and state licensing agencies also are authorized to confirm the eligibility status of CDL holders through the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

FMCSA investigators further report that Leal-Salas continued to operate a commercial vehicle about two weeks following the crash, as early as Dec. 4, and again on Dec. 17, although he prohibited from it.

FMCSA also found multiple instances of Leal-Salas seriously exceeding federal hours-of-service limitations designed to prevent fatigued driving.

Leal-Salas and the motor carriers who employed him while he was prohibited from operating a commercial motor vehicle may be subject to civil and criminal penalty enforcement proceedings for violations of U.S. federal safety regulations. LL

Click here for information about what to do now that the first Clearinghouse query deadline has passed.