Truck stops are more than just places for truck drivers to refuel; the largest ones usually have other retail and service options, such as convenience stores, showers, movie theaters, and even dentist’s offices. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these locations are meant to serve as a “home away from home” for truck drivers.
But truck stops can also play host to some seedy behavior, such as illegal drug trafficking. It’s a federal offense to distribute a controlled substance in or anywhere near these establishments. The punishments for this crime are severe, involving millions of dollars in fines and decades of prison time.
Transportation safety violation, first offense
Federal law prohibits persons from distributing or possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance while inside or within 1,000 feet of a truck stop or similar safety rest area that’s located within 2,500 of the country’s Interstate highway system.
A conviction under this law for a first offense leads to twice the maximum punishment normally imposed on those convicted of illegal controlled substance distribution. The prison time and amount of fines a convicted person must face depends on the controlled substance involved in the offense. So, if the person had 50 grams or more of methamphetamine or 100 grams or more of PCP, what would’ve been $10,000,000 in fines becomes up to $20,000,000 in fines instead.
Notably, a prison sentence for a drug distribution conviction can range from 20 years to life imprisonment.
Second and subsequent offense
If a court convicts a person for a second or subsequent offense, the maximum possible penalty is instead tripled. Using the example earlier, a person convicted of distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine at a truck stop for a second time can face up to $30,000,000 in fines.
Federal drug laws are complex and carry severe consequences, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. Consulting with a legal professional can be incredibly helpful if you face charges. An attorney can provide valuable guidance and representation to protect your rights throughout the legal process.