Exam Scam: Unhealthy Truck Drivers Cleared to Operate Big Rigs

As many as 6,600 commercial truck drivers may have been certified in Georgia as healthy enough to drive by a chiropractor known as “Dr. Tony” when they would not have passed a genuine medical exam. The agency which regulates the trucking industry and its drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has warned that any drivers who were certified as healthy by Dr. Anthony Lefteris within the past two years must be medically retested quickly. Otherwise, they will have their CDLs (commercial driver’s licenses) taken away.

Lefteris faces criminal charges of operating a scam in which he faked medical exams in order to help drivers obtain licenses. Allegedly he saw truckers at the Petro Center on Hollowell Parkway, off I-285 in Atlanta, providing them with medical certificates but not doing the examinations or tests required by law. The criminal complaint also alleges that he performed about 360 medical exams per month. The typical number of trucker exams performed by a medical examiner averages only 14.

Lefteris, who is out on $20,000 bond, was taken off the rolls of certified medical examiners on December 2, 2016.

What Does the CDL Medical Exam Test For?

The medical examination for the CDL normally takes approximately 25 minutes and includes a review of a driver’s medical history, vision tests, hearing tests, and a drug-screening urinalysis. The exam and tests are meant to determine whether a driver has a condition that would make them ineligible to drive a commercial truck. Examples of ailments which would disqualify a driver are angina pectoris or other types of serious cardiovascular disease, diabetes requiring insulin control, any respiratory dysfunction, or a psychiatric disorder.

The tests are meant to be tough because of some horrific commercial driving accidents in the 1990s, after which some began to advocate for stricter medical examinations. The pressure grew more intense after a 1999 bus accident in New Orleans where 22 people were killed and 15 were seriously injured. National Transportation Safety Board investigators determined that the driver had been seriously physically compromised. In addition to suffering from kidney failure and congestive heart failure, he had also been under the influence of antihistamines and marijuana. The driver lost consciousness on the interstate while driving.

Previous Fraudulent Examiners

Lefteris is not the only medical professional who has conducted fraudulent exams. The FMCSA claims they do not keep track of the number of practitioners who have lost examination privileges. However, three cases of CDL medical exam fraud were described in October 2016 statements released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General:

  • A New York doctor who practiced at JFK International Airport pled guilty to conducting fraudulent CDL medical exams. In some cases, the doctor was not even present; assistants and interns forged his signature on the certificates. (https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/33856)
  • A Missouri chiropractor who had pled guilty to fraud and falsifying records with regard to CDLs was sentenced. Among other actions, she had instructed her staff to conduct parts of the exams even though they were not qualified. (https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/33855)
  • A woman whose chiropractic license had been suspended in 2013 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was arrested for her part in fraudulent CDL medical examinations, falsely signing certificates as someone qualified to perform exams when she was not. On other occasions, she forged other doctors’ names. During September 2016 the woman was indicted by a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, federal grand jury on 65 counts of false statements, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. (https://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/33845)

Truck safety is a sensitive topic in our neighboring state of Georgia because the state is number five out of all 50 states when it comes to fatal crashes involving commercial trucks, with 149 deadly crashes in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While South Carolina did not, thankfully, make the top ten, during that same period 79 persons were killed on our own roads in large truck wrecks. The year 2017 has already seen some horrible crashes in our state, such as the February one in Anderson County, where two persons died and two were seriously injured when an 18-wheeler and a Honda collided.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident with a commercial vehicle, we at the Louthian Law Firm would like to help.

Seeking truth. Securing justice.

Truck accidents can be extremely complicated both because of the large amounts of money often involved and because of the potential for multiple defendants. It is important to consult with a qualified South Carolina truck accident lawyer to make sure your rights are protected. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, the Louthian Law Firm can help make things right. We’ll deal with the insurance companies on your behalf to help you get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, repair bills, lost income and any other financial costs that the accident caused. Where appropriate, we’ll also seek compensation on your behalf for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. With our hands-on approach, you’ll get exceptional results.

For a free and confidential evaluation of your case, call today at 1-803-454-1200, or use our online contact form.