TikTok Video of Man Filling Up His Truck Could Pose Criminal Sanctions

May 19, 2022 Criminal Defense

It is normal for people to want to find ways to save money. With gas prices at an all-time high, most people are currently strategizing ways to spend less before they fuel up. Whether they are planning the best time of the week to fill up or trying to find better habits while driving, everyone has the increasing gas prices squarely in their heads. However, make sure that what you and your loved ones are trying doesn’t end up endangering other people or landing you in prison.

Man Tries To “Store” Gas in The Back of His Pickup Truck

In a recently posted TikTok, a man is seen filling up his truck at a Chevron gas station by a couple who look to have just pulled up to the station. The video authors are aghast at the realization that the man is not filling up his tank, but rather, “his back ‘trunk.’” In the video, the man put a tarp over the back of his pickup truck and is proceeding to fill it up at the gas station. The commentators are quick to point out that not only is this extremely unsafe for the man and everyone around him at the gas station, but the gasoline is leaking from the trunk.

One of the commentators is quick to insist that they must do something, as the danger to not just them but anyone that comes close to the truck could be fatal. After she runs to the gas station and finds out that the gas attendant is calling the police, the couple walks up to the man to try to see if he is aware of the dangerous situation he is creating. The man is heard saying “just beat it will ya” at the couple, and eventually gets in his truck and leaves.

 In a follow-up video, the couple proceeds to follow the man after he takes off from the gas station. It’s important to note that if anyone were to see a similar situation, they should not follow such a vehicle down the road. This becomes increasingly apparent in the second video, as the man is driving erratically down the road and vast amounts of gasoline are seen being spilled from the back of the truck onto the road. This is extremely dangerous for the people driving behind and close to him as a single spark could potentially ignite the trail of gasoline that the man is leaving behind.

As many of the comments in the video point out, it seems senseless that if a person is trying to make sure they have gas, spending a bunch of money to then proceed to spill it on the side of the road seems counterintuitive. Another issue that is vastly discussed in the comments is that people believe the contents in the back of the truck to be simply water. While the situation is hotly debated by multiple people, it is still important to note that no one should attempt to do something like this.

While it is unclear if the man was prosecuted or if this was just a prank/staged video, it’s important to note that such a situation is not just dangerous but a person attempting this would face criminal sanctions in our state.

Is this really a big deal?

While most people try to keep their tanks from completely emptying while they are on the road, almost everyone knows or has heard of someone who had to do that walk of shame down the interstate to the nearest gas station at one point. It’s even safe to assume that a lot of people know that gasoline should only be stored in approved containers that are normally easily purchased at gas stations.

What most people probably don’t know is the reason why they need to use special containers when not putting gasoline directly in their vehicles. To put it simply, this is because gasoline is capable of dissolving certain plastics. As such, high-density polyethylene “HDPE” is normally used in plastic gasoline containers because it helps insulate and shield gasoline from the heat in the environment. Not to mention, if the container were to be dissolved then the gasoline would spill and endanger the person transporting it. This was an issue last year during the gasoline shortage. People were reported to have been filling plastic bags in order to have extra gasoline in case the stations ran out.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the video the person is using what is very likely a tarp made from silnylon or another heavy-duty material like polyethylene. As previously explained, HDPEs are normally used in containers as their attributes prevent them from being melted by the gasoline. Having the gasoline melt through the tarp is not the only issue, as is clearly shown in the second video, transporting gasoline while leaving the contents completely open to the elements occurs in spillage and could very well lead to a fire.

Florida’s Unlawful Conveyance of Fuel Statute

But how could this land me in prison? To start out, it’s important to quickly understand the difference between jail and prison. In our state, jail is used for offenses that require incarceration of less than a year, while prison is used for the more serious offenses that require at least a year or more of incarceration. To read more about the difference between jail and prison you can read our blog here.

Next, the reason you could be facing prison is that under Florida Statute Section 316.80, it is unlawful for a person to have a vehicle that is equipped with a container that is not approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation or that complies with Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  The statute states that a person who employs such vehicles with a container not in compliance for (1) hauling, (2) transporting, or (3) conveying motor or diesel fuel over any public highway shall be committing a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. To learn more about Florida’s sentencing guidelines you can read our blog here.

The stature increases the penalty to a second-degree felony if the person also violates this law while attempting or fraudulently obtaining the motor or diesel fuel by (1) presenting a fraudulent credit card, (2) using unauthorized access to a computer or computer network, or (3) using a fraudulently scanned, lost, or stolen payment access device. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If this wasn’t enough, the statute further authorizes any law enforcement agency that seizes the fuel to properly dispose of it, and upon conviction, the person shall forfeit all containers and equipment for destruction. As well as having to pay any costs incurred by the investigative law enforcement agency, including towing and storage of the conveyance or vehicle and the destruction and disposal of all the fuel and equipment.

Finally, this section only applies to containers that hold more than eight gallons of gasoline. While it is unknown how much fuel the man in the video poured into the back of his truck, it is very clearly more than eight gallons and in our state, this statute would apply to him. But most people who use a plastic grocery bag, or a gallon of milk would not be facing such severe penalties.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of any type of felony charge, it is of the utmost importance to seek out the help of an experienced  Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. As you could be facing serious consequences if convicted. A quality attorney will be able to assist you through the legal ups and downs of a criminal charge. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients from all over the state of Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Jesus Lozano

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