Trucker Imprisoned Without Charges For 17 Days


A truck driver claiming to have been imprisoned for 17 days without being charged with a crime is filing a lawsuit in federal court against the county, the county jail, and the sheriff’s office of Box Elder County, Utah.

The driver, Robert Kuchcinki, says that he was traveling southbound on I-15 when he “reached across the cab of the tractor to retrieve an item causing the truck to drift out of the lane of travel.”

When he noticed his mistake, he quickly corrected it, but that infraction caused a nearby motorist to call the police who pulled him over a few minutes later. Kuchcinki was pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Ellsworth and was cited for failure to stay in one lane. The trooper then asked Kuchcinski to take a breathalyzer test and despite a reading of 0.00%, Kuchcinski was then asked to step out of his truck to perform some field sobriety tests.

At the time of the incident, Kuchcinski was being treated for a severe inner ear infection which is known to cause issues with balance. When he performed the tests, the only ones that showed a possibility of intoxication were the ones that had to do with balance. Despite explaining his condition to the trooper, Kuchcinski was arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired and sent to county jail. While being processed, he provided a blood sample.

“From that time until 17 days later, (Kuchcinski) remained incarcerated in the Box Elder County Jail,” according to the complaint filed by Kuchcinski. “At no time was he brought before a judge for arraignment and at no time was he formally charged with any crime other than the traffic citation, a mere infraction. Likewise, he was not afforded an opportunity to confer with counsel.”

Then after 16 days of incarceration, he asked a trooper if there was any news on when he’d be allowed to see a judge. When the trooper asked him what his attorney had told him and he responded that he hadn’t been allowed to talk with one, the trooper left.  The next day he was released after being allowed to meet with an attorney.

On top of the hardship of 17 days of wrongful incarceration, Kuchcinski was fired from his job because he was “arrested for suspicion of driving while impaired…” despite the fact that both his breathalyzer test and blood test came back with a blood alcohol content of 0.00% and he tested “negative for all controlled substances and all other potentially impairing substances for which testing had been performed.”

In his complaint, Kuchcinski claims that his constitutional rights were violated because he was denied a speedy trial, notice of nature and cause of accusation, right to counsel, and due process of the law, as well as false imprisonment and violations of state law that allow for bail hearing and arraignment.

He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.


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60 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Christopher Potvin says

    Thank you so much for doing a story on this! You have more information on it than the local Media had printed. I contacted OOIDA about this and haven’t heard a response so I don’t know if they are going to help him or do anything or even if they can.

    • paul tomaino says

      ooida is mostly in favor of dot and big companies….if you think there on your side…think again!

      • JOE SHANNON says

        You dont know A dam thing about OOIDA. You sound like A company troll. OOIDA has brought suit against large companies AND the state over and over again when no one else would lift A finger. They work year after year doing it, ALL on the behalf of owner operators.

        • Mike` says

          Oh, I know quite a lot about the alleged driver advocate called OOIDA. As a former member, I can not offer 1 good word about them!!!!!!

  2. Christopher Potvin says

    Thank you for doing a story on this! I had posted the original one on the Forums. You have more information on it than the local Media has portrayed! I have sent OOIDA and email about it and never heard back. I don’t know if they are going to look into it and help Him or not.

    Thank you again.

  3. Mark says

    The constitutional stuff is bad, and this guy should get a BIG payday if all that is reported is true…but you can get a citation in Utah just because a motorist calls in? The cops don’t have to see the violation, they just take the word of another driver? WTF is up with that?

    • Jason says

      Montana is the same way. If a motorist is willing to testify in court that they saw the violation take place, the cop is duty bound to write you a ticket….

    • Philip Bagwell, Sr. says

      The morning drive in Salt lake has cars going all over the lanes…let alone when it snows.
      This guy didn’t hit anyone. Hope he get’s to face his accuser.

    • Allen says

      Funny – Never can get the Highway Patrol to pull over 4 wheelers who tailgate, change lanes and pass without a signal, can’t maintain their lane, speeding, and make an unsafe pass – pull back in front of you with less than a second of distance. There have been countless times they’ve done this with the highway patrol behind them. I guess they’re too busy talking on their cell phones and typing on their computers while driving to notice.

  4. Connie Suthers says

    This among other reasons is why I gave up a driving career of 24+years. Its bad enough
    that the Federal Government has placed so many rules and regulations that make it nearly impossible to get from point a to point b but now the drivers out on the road have no business with a CDL! I personally never went to a truck driving school, but was taught
    respect for my fellow drivers and everyone else out on the road. Those days are long gone never to be seen again.

  5. David says

    This is only one of many where us trucker’s are getting harass t by troopers, sheriffs, and DOT . I tried to use my video phone to video a dot inspection and the dot officer just totally lost it threating me with jail time if I don’t turn it off .

    • anthony says

      You can video anything the cop is doing to you as long as you let him know. I was thrown in jail from the cops in the next town over from where I live for video taping a inspection. And man you should have seen the faces on those 2 pigs when the judge yelled at them and I quote “I never want to see you in the court room ever AGAIN!!” pure bliss…

      All charges were dropped and the inspection didn’t stand cause they wrote it on a paper back notebook. My face still hurts from how much smiling I was doing lol.

  6. rose says

    This is a crying shame.. The company he drove for should be backing him instead of firing him..Drivers has no one in their corner anymore. Including OOIDA or any other entity that claims to fight for us.

    • Allen says

      Normal for all companies. I’ve yet to see one back you on anything. Like everything else, the driver gets the blame even if there is NO WAY the driver could have had anything to do with the situation or is clearly NOT at fault – it’s ALWAYS the driver’s fault.

      • tophat1962 says

        Do you know why the companies will not back a driver? it is cheaper to hire the next steering wheel holder in line than to spend money or their time on a driver. Sad, but money talks to the mega carriers. Dont drive for one anymore, just a small local company with better everything. And the owner always finds time to mingle with the drivers when they are in.

  7. jim says

    they are gonna pay dearly for that ! wow – how dumb can a bunch of cops be _ he will get millions _
    and he can sue the company too

  8. dhcrystal says

    The heavy handed lawmen trying to assert their authority do nothing for their profession but continue to disgrace it. They, like many others (including many trucking company management folks) are incapable of distinguishing between irrational demand for ‘respect’ vs. earning respect.

  9. Chris_B says

    Another story to add to my collection when I try to discourage people from choosing driving as a job/career.

  10. Tony Sanders says

    To Mark,

    Anyone has the right to call local, county or state police if they witness a violation of law. They will be asked if they want to sign a formal complaint in which, if they do and the police pull the violator over, t. y can issue a ticket and write the witness name on the traffic citation. If the witness does not show up to court to testify the judge should throw the ticket out and drop the charge. The officer was only acting on what the witness said and did not visually see the traffic citation occur. To me something does not sound right…

    In this story it says the driver was given a PBT ( portable breath test) before he was asked to do road side tests. Once this reads .000 then they need to decide if there is intoxication from controlled or illegal substances. The question that will come into play is what did the officer observe. His testimony will be very pivitol. Did he observe enough problems to believe this driver was in fact driving under the influence of a controlled substance. It sounded as if the driver admitted to being treated for an inner ear infection. If this affects his balance this much then maybe he should not be driving. What did the medication say? Does the label say do not opperate heavy machinery while taking these medications?

    The part of not allowing him to speak with a attorney, the right to bond out, speedy trial and so on is a big WT heck happened here? Sounds like his information was lost.

    Best of luck getting your job back after admitting you were taking medication and driving.

    Moral of the story… Do not reach across the truck and take your eyes off the road. Pull over first. Always think about safety 1st.

    • Robert H says

      Tony, it also says he was asked to step out of the truck after being given the PBT. Why was he not out of the truck in the first place? And why did he wait so long to ask about arraignment or to speak to a lawyer. Something sounds fishy to me. If it had been me(and my wife made the same statements when I read her the article), I would have been asking for my lawyer from the moment we got to the jail, and would not have stopped until I had spoken with one, not waited 16days to try to find out when I could see a judge or a lawyer either one.

    • All to common says

      If the officer was indeed doing what his job entitles him too, he would have given this man his day in court. This sounds more like an officer on a power trip.As for his medication and the effects, you are only assuming they could be impairing his driving, my husband drives truck and takes pain meds for his lower back, so in fact if the something happened to him, you would assume his medication would be the cause, guess again. The medication prescribed is non addictive, and will not impair his driving. If everyone actually had the same idea of what is a punishable infraction as you do, I could only guess, but the odds are you would have already done time. I see many CARS drifting into others lanes, cutting people off, texting, on the cell phone this is almost on a daily bases. But this only seems too be an big issue for some, if a truck driver does it, all of you who stereotype, usually have somewhere down the road, done the same yourself. Gone are the days of courtesy on the road, when people used to pull over to let the traffic go, by if they where driving too slow or waiting until you are a couple car lengths ahead of a vehicle, before cutting back into a lane. I’ve driven many times down the road in my car to have someone almost hit me trying to cut back into the lane I’m in, half these idiots have their eyes on the road,and their not big trucks. Are you aware of how many people that have no idea what a directional light is used for? Or of how many people there are that do not know how to drive safe around a big truck? It should not only be up to a truck driver to be professional , but it should be up to everyone on the road in any vehicle. Why do people need driving courses or licences, if they no longer need to follow the rules of the road? And you are right anyone can and do have the right to phone in and make a formal complaint, but many abuse that right too. My husband once had a complaint made about his driving, the phone call was made to his employers,he was accused of undo care and attention on the road and speeding, funny though they where told that the incident had occurred in an area that he had not driven too, his truck run the week this was supposed to have occurred took him hundreds of miles from where he was accused of being, the funny thing that person had his truck number ( I think it was his ex wife, and she didn’t know he was on a new run), he also followed behind a women who had a baby in the back seat of her vehicle, and while driving she kept turning around to stick the soother back into the child’s mouth, and of course not paying attention to the road, kept speeding up and slowing down, eventually this same women reported my husband for driving too close and he was pulled over by an officer, when there was mention of her, constantly reaching behind the seat for the soother, of course the officer did not want to hear it. So yeah people have the right to phone in and complain, but it every complaint made, an honest one? And when the person who was the accused tries to defend themselves it goes on deaf ears. My husband could have lost his job due too the first complaint if he had not taken it to his union, his dispatcher was on a power trip, and this is not uncommon anymore is it, he had to prove he was not there at the time even know it was that dispatcher that had sent him elsewhere. It just sound to me as if are assuming way too much, if his paperwork was lost oops it was a mistake, how convenient was that for the arresting officer, what can’t assume that maybe it was no mistake, really could you be that dumb? How about it would be convenient to remove the paperwork so there is no evidence. So really the moral of the story is, you have no morals, you assume too much, and until he is given his day in court, you really don’t know what happened, or the effects of this mans medication. You have already prosecuted him, with no evidence and on an article you read. I really hope you are not an officer of the law, because if you are, this worlds is going to hell.

    • Lisa says

      One thing to think about is that the driver admitted to impaired equilibrium because of his current inner ear infection. This alone would temporarily disqualify him from driving if he can’t keep his balance. It sounds like it was not the medication, but the condition he was being treated for, that was causing balance issues.

      The part about being held for 17 days, if true, is a huge issue.

      • Christopher Potvin says

        What article are you reading where it say that the Driver admitted to impaired equilibrium and where is your source that says He can’t drive if He can’t keep his balance?

        • Mark says

          Chris…the answer to your first question is this: “At the time of the incident, Kuchcinski was being treated for a severe inner ear infection which is known to cause issues with balance.”

          As for not being legally able to drive…when you take your DOT physical, they test your balance. If you can’t keep it, you do not get the card.

  11. Red says

    How did he get a citation for lane departure? Did he have another incident witnessed by the trooper, or is the law that vague in Utah that a trooper can issue a traffic citation based only on the testimony of another motorist? If the latter is the case, I’ll make sure I never drive through Utah, as that is simply ridiculous. Here in Virginia, a trooper must witness a violation to issue a citation for it. If they could base everything on complaints, half of the population would be in jail.

  12. Wisten ramos says

    One of the worst Abuse of power storys i have read in long time ..
    No local or state law enforcement officer should be able to retain there job
    After such abuse .. They have to make an example out of him!! ( troper )

  13. Rafal says

    I guess company he worked for cares only about themselves. Hopefully they will learn the lesson.
    Mr. Kuchcinski most likely won’t have to work for them anymore.
    How can you put someone in Jail for such an offense and hold him for 17 days. That is a shame for UTAH Police and their system that failed. No supervisors? They should settle it, the sooner the better.

  14. George says

    The cops will do whatever they want and always have. A radical move will need to be made by the populous to change that. The cops got a call about a swerving tractor trailer, so they were foaming at the mouth. We all know the trucks are the real problem on the road (only 3% of crashes are the fault of tractor trailers). Now this cop finds something to get this guy on so he can show his dominance, and arrest him with a trip to the county lock up. This type of cop lives for this. So at first it looks like it was a good procedure when the cop didnt just hand the driver a ticket upon arrival and leave. It looks as if he was trying to figure out what was going on. Now the real problem pops up, the cop needed to think. They are not taught to figure things out, just do as you are trained. This is evident in the “That cant be right” statement. The jail and legal system super screwed the pooch on this one. In NO WAY should he have been left in a jail cell for over two weeks with out due process! This is first a jail procedure problem, then a police training issue second. This man is now screwed for life as far as ANY reputable career that will do any back round check, which is required to get a good job anywhere.

  15. martee99 says

    Seventeen days and this guy can’t get ahold of a lawyer? BS. And why was he driving if he had an severe inner ear infection to begin with. And yeah, the trooper probably watched this guy weave all over the highway before pulling him over. That’s easy enough to do.

    • Charles says

      The jailer has control over you while you are in jail. You ask to use the phone. Jailer walks away. How do you contact a lawyer if the persons that have control over you do not allow access to a phone? You have absolutely no power or control over what happens to you while you are locked up.

  16. Xavire says

    You some of you are just like that trooper guilty already. That’s the problem people always say the cops are right just because your son, daughter, or some relative is a cop or trooper y’all need to quit living a fantasy world. There have been plenty of cases were people have been lost in the shuffle in county especially if they are small jails that had to send the blood test to the next county to get processed. Just wait and see what a Supreme Court judge say because his civil rights were violated whether anyone thinks he was impaired or not.

  17. Tim says

    Back in the day I would sometimes practice precision lane positioning by driving real close to those cylindrical orange construction barriers (so-called “Schneider eggs”) in construction zones. Shortly after doing this one day in the middle of Utah on I-15 I got pulled over by a couple troopers who received a phone call from a driver who told them I was knocking barriers over. I hadn’t knocked any over, but quite a few of them were already knocked over. Since I was driving so close to them the motorist must have thought they were being knocked over by me.

    After telling the troopers exactly what I had been doing – emphasizing that no barriers had been knocked over by me – I heard one of them admit to the other that sometimes they would do things like that themselves out on the road (this was in the middle of nowhere – they probably don’t get a lot of calls). So they let me go and just said to not do that anymore.

    This marked the peaceful end to my barrier-hugging career. Haven’t done it since.

  18. Fozzy says

    Sounds like another trucker story to me.. why not wait for the official stories as normally those who were supposedly doing innocent little things that end them up in JAIL for weeks is usually telling less than half of the story.. sounds like he put someone off into the weeds and it sounds also like he was on meds that should have DQ’d him or at least that he should have reported to the carrier and given them the chance to make the decision on whether to to be out there or not. Had he killed someone.. the company would be on the hook and the trial lawyers would have eaten them alive for taking medicating for an inner ear issue.. the inner ear has a hell of a lot more to do with than just balance.. if you cannot balance and walk, should you be driving? The company was well within their rights to rid themselves of the driver.. Hope he gets out and can be used as yet another example of dumb driver behavior.

  19. JIM B says

    Mark, how many times have YOU called into law authority to report a four wheeler endangering the public, for cutting you off and almost causing an accident, etc,etc, etc???…and, what did they do?…NOTHING, that’s what…absoulutely nothing!….but let some idiot in a car call in on a truck driver and the whole damned force is out looking for you. Ihave been dealing with this for 38 years driving a tryuck and it isn’t getting any better, only worse each year. We have no rights, yet, we supply every city, county, and state with the goods we all need…too bad the public and the law enforcement forget this major thing.

    • Mark says

      Jim…32 year driver here, and yes, I have had that happen. Just this past Tuesday I got behind a car that was weaving all over the road on a 2 lane highway, I-395 in CT. The car slowed down to a crawl, and I ended up next to her. She was texting. She sped up again, and I followed her for about 30 miles. I called the Staties before I knew she was texting, told them a drunk was all over the road, yet never saw one for the 35 minutes I was behind her. You’re right…if It was me in my truck, they’d have had me pulled over in no time flat.

  20. Ron says

    I lost my CDL in 2006 by the Fostoria Municipal court. An Ohio state employee driving an Ohio state owned car ran a red light into the side of my passenger was killed. guess who the Ohio State Police,the Ohio courts,even the Ohio Attorney from Crabb,Brown,James out of Columbus who was supposed to defend me during the court proceeding coverd up for? Mr. Ben Enders the driver of the car. In Ohio the court system is manipulated to favor one person over another. “Equal justice under the law”. The witness even told the officers it was this guys fault,but the police made sure that fact never got on the accident report. How handy for Mr. Ender’s case,don’t you think? Fostoria Municipal court won’t even allow me an appeal. he ran into my truck.

  21. Terry n says

    I have lower and mid back pain. Without the meds the pain is too intense to concentrate on driving. With meds your not “buzzed out” as everyone dramatises when in pain. Taking pain meds without needing them “recreational” , yea thats buzzing. Stupid. Those people and doctors that don’t have pain daily/neverending pain can’t in anyway or form know the effects of meds for chronic pain. Reading a book on it isn’t how it really is. Experience is the only way to understand how things work in true life

  22. jack says

    If this guy gets the right lawyer , he wont NEED his job back.He will have anice payday coming courtesy of the police dept and city they are in.

  23. Harold Carnes says

    If the DOT is concerned about Safety,Than why aren’t they concerned about the Fumes that come into a lot of Trucks because of the Fresh air intake design, I had to go to the Hospital three times
    lung issue, ear infections, blood pressure,, flu like problems, There’s more to this,

  24. DannyE says

    I hope the guy winds up owning the state trooper and the state. Time for police state tactics to cease. There is no justice for us serfs anymore.

  25. says

    I’d feel the same. I understand the officer looking for a reason(drugs, fatigue) to have concrete evidence it wasn’t just as the driver stated but I thought 48 hours is as long as you can hold “a suspect” without evidence……

  26. tgtrotter says

    The 16 days triggers me. Not saying it can’t happen. Just seems odd to not do something, make a ruckus, pester and be persistent. I just don’t know.

    • John says

      He probably didn’t want to get his skull bashed in “resisting arrest”, or die of three or four “self inflicted” gunshot wounds to the back.

  27. Jeff says

    I didn’t see anything mentioned about his meranda rights, if they was read to him at the time of his arrest. I do know that it use to be, that they could hold you upto 48 hours, and then they have to formally charge you, but may have been change to 72 hours now.

  28. John says

    A reason I left trucking was legal liability like this one. America has the highest per capita rate for incarceration on the planet largely due to abuse of process. As a group of workers, truckers toil in a sweatshop with wheels without decent rights, union strength or a lobby representing drivers. The ATA who call themselves truckers actually are the big companies kissing the bottom of the Feds or shifting any blame onto Joe Trucker. This Utah case shows how justice really works here and the U.S. has the nerve to enforce its brand of justice and democracy on other countries?! Give us all a break. When I next see that TV show “Locked up Abroad”, I’ll remember Utah and a few other lovely crackpot dominions. Good luck to this trucker and a hint from Russian truckers, always mount and use a dashcam for legal self-defense—-you may be happy you did.

  29. Troady says

    Gone are the days the trucker was a person with rights like everybody else, a trucker is a trucker, the bottom feeder of any jobs and somebody at the mercy of anyone willing to make his/her life misserable just because they can. Even for the companies who they driving for they are mere a number in a seat who can be replace w/o giving notice, it is a shame but this reallity in 2013 USA, I just stop trucking because all the BS after enjoying the open road in 48 states and Canada for 32 years and change my cdl for a class E dl, no more trucking for me, good luck to the rest of you trying to make a decent living over the road.

  30. John says

    He should be awarded several hundred million dollars and the cops involved should get prison time…in maximum security’s general population.

  31. Flower child says

    Our country is QUICKLY becoming a polls state right before our eyes! My wife and I have concerns about our young children. When will we hear ” just get on the train, its procedure!”

  32. says

    I must admit I’m more than a bit put off by the slamming of OOIDA in some of these posts. I think it’s great that Samuel re-reported this story to share with the trucking world — but (and no offense, Samuel) the story here CAME FROM OOIDA’s Land Line daily news. It was an original story by BY CLARISSA KELL-HOLLAND, Land Line Staff Writer. As editor of the magazine, I can tell you, she did the research, she got the court documents, she made the phone calls. … exposing the awful situation. The guy is not a member, but OOIDA’s media staff felt that his story deserved to be told. That is all.

  33. Victor Vaillette says

    Here is a driver who admits to a ‘severe ear infection’ that ‘only’ affects his balance and he’s driving a semi down the road. If he suffers vertigo, the world suddenly goes sideways, he’s sitting up straight but what he ‘sees’ is 90 degrees off as though he were lying down. And he’s driving! This is a severe lapse in judgment on the driver’s part.

    He’s just damn lucky law enforement screwed up. You can be impaired due to lack of sleep, vertigo or trying to text and drive–it doesn’t have to be a substance.

  34. Mike` says

    OOIDA is about as useful as teats on a boar hog. Their #1 concern is membership dues, so they can stay in their comfort zone. I could name you numerous incidents where they have turned a blind eye to the driver. As a former member of this entity, it didn’t take me long to see where their interests lies. No matter if you O/O, L/O, or company driver, they discriminate also.

  35. Terry says

    It is things like this that is why I turn my grandfathered class 1 in. and now have a class 5 driving a car will never drive a truck again. I was attacked at work and charged with assault because I avoid 3 accidents then when this guy detained me on the road he assaulted me the bigest piss off ios how the news trucking new reporter all ask me what i did to piss him off. AS a truck driver as long as we do not help each other this is going to be the norm.

  36. Terry says

    Here some think else in Alberta Canada in under a year 5 trucker attack and beaten. no arrest except one me for defending myself.v And that is what we have heard of and when this is pointed out the trucker news they all say the same thing what did the trucker do to piss the four wheeler off. and this who we turn to for the truth when they do not even want the truth same as everyone else it has to be the truckers fault.

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