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Pennsylvania-licensed driver shut down after multiple Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse violations

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has effectively shut down Pennsylvania-licensed truck driver Eric G. Burke after he continued operating despite being in prohibited status in FMCSA’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

According to FMCSA, on May 18, 2020, Burke submitted to a pre-employment controlled substance test while seeking employment with Lentzcaping, Inc. On May 29, 2020, the Medical Review Officer notified Burke that he had tested positive for marijuana metabolites and that he was prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle. Burke was also referred to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) for evaluation, education and treatment.

Burke allegedly ignored his operating prohibition and the requirement to undergo an evaluation and continued to drive in interstate commerce.

According to FMCSA’s imminent hazard order, on Oct. 11, 2020, Burke underwent a roadside inspection after a single-vehicle crash and was placed out-of-service for possession of marijuana while operating a commercial vehicle. He was also in violation for not completing the SAP evaluation and return-to-duty process.

Then, on June 14, 2021, Burke was subject to a roadside inspection while driving for Philadelphia-based, nine-truck Sinop Trucking and was placed out-of-service for performing a safety-sensitive function while prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. He was also placed out-of-service for possession of alcohol while on-duty.

He was again placed out-of-service while driving for Sinop on Dec. 15, 2021, during a roadside inspection for operating while prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

The imminent hazard order states that Burke’s CDL was suspended by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on Jan. 24, 2022, because he was prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle, but he continued to operate, making at least seven more trips in interstate commerce between March 12 and April 21.

On April 21, Burke was subject to a roadside inspection and was once again placed out-of-service for operating, still for Sinop, while prohibited in the Clearinghouse, as well as for operating without a CDL.

Thomas Vasquez, a manager for Sinop Trucking, confirmed Thursday that Burke used to drive for the company, but that the company was not aware that he was listed as prohibited in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Vasquez added that he only recently started working at Sinop and was not aware of the three out-of-service orders Burke received while driving for the company.

According to FMCSA's Safety Measurement System, Sinop Trucking has a 57.7% driver out-of-service rate -- approximately 10 times the national average (5.8%), with most such OOS violations citing truck operation without an ELD when required. 

FMCSA said Burke “failed to exercise an appropriate duty of care to the motoring public while operating a CMV. Specifically, [he] ignored FMCSRs relating to alcohol and controlled substances use and possession, medical certification, and the safe operation of a CMV.”

[Related: Texas one-truck carrier owner 'done with trucking' after crash, FMCSA shutdown order]

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