Third-party testing allows companies outside the state's licensing system, primarily trucking companies, to test their own employees and certify them for commercial driver's licenses. The program came under fire this year as part of the federal probe of CDL selling. David Jans, a former bus company safety officer pleaded guilty recently to taking payoffs from a driving school operator in exchange for certifying that would-be truck drivers had passed nonexistent road tests. Jans legally would not have been able to give the tests anyway because the program allows companies to test only their own employees.
The new rules require CDL applicants to hold a valid learner's permit for at least two weeks before they are tested by a third party. In the past, drivers could get a learner's permit and a license the same day.
CDL applicants also must now get an instruction permit for the specific type of vehicle they intend to be licensed in - and show the permit before being tested by a third party. Drivers who are certified by the third-party program must go through a two-week training period. And third-party testers must now notify the Secretary of State's office if the driver's employment with the company lasts less than six months.
Any company that has an unsatisfactory safety rating from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be barred from the third-party testing program.
Of the 435,000 Illinois CDL holders, about 10,000 received licenses through the third-party certification method.