Illinois Moves To Close Licensing Loophole

January 28, 2000

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Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill that would close a licensing loophole that was discovered after an Amtrak train hit a flatbed truck near Bourbonnais last spring, killing 11 people.

A Senate committee approved the bill last week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. If it passes, it will give state officials access to driver's full records - including offenses for which they are let off with court supervision, or "traffic school."
The trucker involved in the Bourbonnais crash was found to have at least five court supervisions in three counties. These court supervisions let traffic offenders pay a fine and take a driving class, with the offense not showing up on their records. Had the trucker been convicted of these offenses and they had been reported to state authorities, he would have lost his license.
Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees licensing, proposed the bill. It would set up a statewide database of drivers who have committed traffic offenses and received court supervision.
Commercial driver traffic convictions are supposed to be tracked by the national Commercial Driver License Information System, or CDLIS. However, as testimony revealed at a recent National Transportation Safety Board hearing on commercial driver oversight, many municipal and county offenses don't make it into the driver's record.
The law passed late last year that set up the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also called for the new agency to make some changes in the CDL program. Among them, the prohibits states from issuing provisional or temporary licenses to CDL holders that would allow them to drive while license is suspended, revoked or canceled. The law won't take effect, however, until the FMCSA writes the rules to enforce it, publishes them, gets comments and publishes a final rule.

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