WASHINGTON — A North Carolina trucker who continued to drive a commercial vehicle after being placed out of service for violations in three different states within a span of three weeks has been declared an imminent hazard by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Jean Lafortune Jr. has been ordered not to operate any commercial vehicle in interstate commerce. He was served the federal order July 22.
According to FMCSA, a commercial motor vehicle operated by Lafortune was stopped for unannounced roadside safety inspections on three occasions in 2021 — On Feb. 17 in Connecticut, on March 4 in South Carolina and on March 10 in New York.
In each instance, state law enforcement officers discovered Lafortune did not possess a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) and had no record-of-duty-status as required by federal safety regulations; in addition, alcoholic beverages were found in the cab of the truck during all three stops. Lafortune was placed out of service after each stop.
During the New York safety inspection, mechanical defects were found on the truck and the vehicle was also placed out of service.
Despite being placed out of service in three states in less than three weeks, Lafortune continued to illegally drive a commercial truck in interstate commerce “in a blatant and egregious disregard of federal safety regulations and of the safety of the motoring public,” according to FMCSA.
Finally, on July 9, while operating in Pennsylvania, Lafortune’s truck became stuck while attempting to turn around on private property. The investigating state police officer discovered Lafortune did not possess a valid CDL and had no record-of-duty-status. Lafortune was placed out of service; the truck he was operating was also placed out of service for multiple safety violations.
Because of these repeated violations, FMSCA has banned Lafortune from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. The imminent hazard out-of-service order states that Lafortune’s “disregard for the safety of the motoring public demonstrated by these actions substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and/or to the motoring public if not discontinued immediately.”
Failure to comply with the provisions of the federal imminent hazard order may result in civil penalties of up to $1,951 for each violation. Knowing and/or willful violations may result in criminal penalties. Lafortune also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceedings brought by FMCSA for violations of the agency’s safety regulations.