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Illinois Targets Trucker License In Amtrak Crash

March 24, 1999

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The Illinois secretary of state’s office was reviewing state law Tuesday to see if it could revoke the driver’s license of the trucker involved in last week’s deadly Amtrak crash, reports the Associated Press.

The driver, 58-year-old John R. Stokes, has not been charged in the March 15 accident in which 11 people were killed and more than 100 injured, but he has a long history of traffic citations over 31 years.
State authorities suspended Stokes’ license Jan. 25 for 60 days after learning he had received three speeding tickets within a year while driving a commercial vehicle in Indiana. After taking a driving course, he obtained a probationary permit to cover the period of the suspension, which is scheduled to end Thursday.
State records obtained by The Associated Press also show Stokes’ license was suspended twice when he failed to pass breath tests for alcohol after traffic stops in 1987 and 1988.
Stokes has denied wrongdoing and a federal official said last week that he was not over the legal limit for alcohol. The official didn’t know if he had consumed any alcohol at all.

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Stokes’ attorney, Leonard Sacks, said his client’s earlier driving history is not relevant in the Amtrak crash. He also was critical of Secretary of State Jesse White’s office for trying to find a way to revoke Stokes’ license now.
“I’d think it would be more appropriate to wait until there’s an investigation that’s completed and they have all the information, rather than reacting to public clamor,” he said.
White’s lawyers are trying to determine whether Stokes’ license can be revoked even if he is not charged.

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