Fleet owners who think they can manipulate or ignore the federal Hours of Service regulations are in for a rude awakening.
For example, take what happened to Dariusz Szteborowski, a fleet manager for the Connecticut-based airport shuttle company Wisla Express.
Just last month, Szteborowski was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for falsifying and destroying driver HOS records that are mandated to be preserved under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) regulations for inspection.
The fleet manager was also ordered by a United States district judge to pay a $20,000 fine.
Earlier in the year, the Wisla Express company as a whole was sentenced to a five-year probation term and fined $75,000.
“Wisla Express drivers, at Mr. Szteborowski’s direction, routinely drove many more hours than allowed by federal transportation safety regulations,” United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said in a press release. “Mr. Szteborowski then attempted to cover up these violations by submitting numerous false driver logs to federal regulators. Driver safety regulations for commercial motor vehicle carriers exist to protect not only passengers, but everyone who travels our nation’s roads. We believe that this investigation and prosecution may have prevented a highway tragedy caused by fatigued drivers, and we hope that this sentence will serve as fair warning to other commercial operators.”
While at Wisla Express, Szteborowski was in charge of the the day-to-day operations of the company, including scheduling driving responsibilities and preserving the company’s driving records, the court said.
In a two-year period beginning in September 2008, the court said Szteborowski organized and sent drivers on trips knowing they would be exceeding the regulated HOS limits of on-duty driving time. He also instructed Wisla Express drivers and others to falsify their driving logs by recording that drivers were off-duty during times when they were on the road.
To pay drivers for time actually spent working for Wisla Express, Szteborowski ordered employees to submit separate timesheets and notes that accurately specified their hours.
Szteborowski then destroyed the timesheets and other documents that accurately recorded the drivers’ hours, according to the court.
In response to a FMCSA investigation of Wisla Express that was initiated in August 2010, Szteborowski produced the falsified driver logs and withheld other records that would conflict with the logs.
In February, both Szteborowski and Wisla Express pleaded guilty to one count of submitting a false statement to the U.S. Department of Transportation.