New Mexico long-haul trucker ordered out of service following DWI crash

By Land Line staff | 5/22/2013

A New Mexico-based long hauler has been declared an imminent hazard after being charged with driving while intoxicated following a crash last month.

The driver, 55-year-old Bobby Cleveland of Prewitt, NM, was operating a 2,400-gallon propane tanker truck in McKinley County, NM, when the vehicle overturned, resulting in the release of hazardous material and the temporary closure of Interstate 40.

According to the police report, Cleveland was driving a truck for Cortez Propane on State Road 122, when he crashed at 11:07 a.m. on Monday, April 29, near mile post 22 in McKinley County.
Based on the investigation of officers on scene, it appears as if Cleveland was traveling on SR 122 at a fast rate of speed. He lost control of the truck, which was filled with propane at the time. Upon crashing, the tank sustained a small leak.

This resulted in Interstate 40, both east and west directions, being shut down for an hour while a hazmat officer evaluated the scene. State Route 122 as well as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe train tracks were also shut down.

Officers also noticed empty containers of an alcoholic beverage at the crash scene. A DWI investigation was conducted, and Cleveland was arrested for DWI.  He was also charged with careless driving and open container.

For each of the past three years, federal and state safety inspectors have conducted approximately 3.5 million random roadside inspections of commercial vehicles and of their drivers. In 2012, on 2,494 occasions, or in 0.26 percent of the unannounced inspections, a CDL holder was immediately placed out of service and cited for violating federal regulations governing alcohol consumption. In 2011, FMCSA records show that there were 2,476 violations of this regulation; in 2010, the number was 2,655.

It is a violation of federal regulations to drive a truck or bus under the influence of alcohol. Federal safety regulations also require that truck and bus companies that employ CDL drivers conduct random drug and alcohol testing programs. FMCSA requires these carriers to randomly test 10 percent of their CDL drivers for alcohol and 50 percent of their CDL drivers for drugs each year.

Truck and bus companies are further required to perform drug and alcohol testing on new hires, drivers involved in significant crashes and whenever a supervisor suspects a driver of using drugs or alcohol while at work.

FMCSA's imminent hazard out-of-service order for Cleveland is based on his violation of federal safety regulations.

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