WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued a new policy statement regarding sexual assault against commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Dec. 7, the FMCSA said the purpose of the policy notice was to “increase awareness of sexual assault against CMV drivers and to emphasize that federal law requires that persons who are convicted of using a CMV to commit a felony must be disqualified from operating a CMV requiring a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial learner’s permit (CLP).”
Additionally, the FMCSA stated that its policy notice “clarifies that when state courts forward convictions based on the use of a CMV in the commission of felony sexual assault, the state driver licensing agencies (SDLA) must disqualify the driver for the time periods set forth in 49 CFR 383.51(b).”
FMCSA officials said that the safety of CMV operators is a critical aspect of their safety mission.
Sexual assaults have occurred at truck stops, fueling stations and in connection with CMV driver training, the FMCSA notes.
“Truck drivers whose personal safety is at risk cannot devote their complete attention to the safe operation of a CMV and the performance of other safety sensitive functions. state courts and SDLAs play a key role in addressing this problem,” the policy notice states. “FMCSA is aware that state criminal codes use varying terms to describe sexual assault, including rape. As used in this notice, the term ‘sexual assault’ means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by state law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.”
Using a CMV in the commission of the assault could, for example, include:
- Felony sexual assault occurring in or upon a CMV or towed unit.
- Use of a CMV to transport a victim to a site where felony sexual assault is committed.
- Use of a CMV to conceal a felony sexual assault – e.g., the CMV serves as a shield from public view while the assault is taking place.
There may be other circumstances in which a CMV is used in the commission of felony sexual assault, as determined by state prosecutors based on the facts of the case and applicable state law.
FMCSA urges state courts to be diligent in forwarding these convictions to the SDLA so the perpetrator will be disqualified from operating a CMV in accordance with 49 CFR 383.51(b) and corresponding state requirements.
Federal law mandates that drivers required to hold a CDL or CLP be disqualified by the State from operating a CMV if they are convicted of using a CMV to commit a felony, other than a felony related to controlled substances or human trafficking (49 U.S.C. 31310(b)(1)(C)).
Under 49 U.S.C. 31311(a)(15)), a State must disqualify an individual from operating a CMV for the same reasons and time periods as set forth in 49 U.S.C. 31310(b)-(e). The corresponding regulations are set forth in 49 CFR 383.51(b), Disqualification for major offenses, Table 1, and in 49 CFR sections 384.215 and 384.216, which require States to disqualify from operating a CMV a person convicted of an offense specified in 49 CFR 383.51(b), Table 1.
A person convicted of felony sexual assault, in which a CMV was used to commit the crime, is therefore subject to disqualification for using a CMV to commit a felony, as set forth in in Table 1, item (6) of 49 CFR 383.51(b), including when the victim of the sexual assault is someone other than another truck driver or a driver trainee.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.