Ryan Asks Federal Government To Re-Certify State Commercial Driver Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2000
CHICAGO - Governor George H. Ryan today requested U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater to direct federal transportation officials to conduct an immediate re-certification of Illinois' commercial motor vehicle and driver safety programs and help other states weed out truck drivers who may have received their drivers licenses under fraudulent or suspicious circumstances.
In addition, Ryan requested that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) disqualify the licenses of any truck drivers who may have obtained their commercial drivers licenses in Illinois by fraudulent means.
In a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, Ryan asked that the FMCSA undertake these actions as quickly as possible.
Ryan noted that he is requesting federal action in conjunction with the U.S. Justice Department's "Operation Safe Road" investigation and state efforts to identify drivers in other states who may have received their commercial licenses under fraudulent circumstances. While secretary of state, Ryan ordered 3,400 drivers to be retested in order for them to retain or obtain their commercial driver's license. Current secretary of state, Jesse White has recently notified 15 states of the potential problem caused by drivers who may have obtained their licenses by suspicious methods.
"We cannot be sure that all such individuals have been identified, or that other states will take swift, immediate and uniform action to ensure the highest levels of safety for the traveling public," Ryan said in his letter.
The governor added that federal action would help ensure that drivers with licenses obtained under fraudulent or suspicious circumstances would be removed from the road until they could be re-tested and re-qualified for commercial vehicles.
A copy of the letter is attached.
The Honorable Rodney Slate
Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of Transportation
400 Seventh St. SW
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Slater:
I am writing to request your assistance and that of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ("FMCSA") in conducting an immediate re-certification of our commercial motor vehicle and driver safety programs. In addition, I respectfully request the assistance of FMCSA in identifying, tracking, and, if appropriate, disqualifying on an emergency basis any individuals who obtained their commercial motor vehicle licenses in the State of Illinois under fraudulent or suspicious circumstances.
As you know, in November, 1998, three former employees of the Illinois Secretary of State's Melrose Park driver's license facility pled guilty to racketeering charges and admitted taking payoffs in exchange for granting commercial trucking licenses to over 200 individuals from 1996 to1998. In mid-1999, two former employees of the Illinois Secretary of State's
McCook driver's license facility and three former Illinois Department of Transportation employees pled guilty to similar charges. With the addition of driving school personnel, truckers, and Secretary of State employees taking bribes for personal driver's licenses as recently as last November, almost 30 persons have been charged in Operation Safe Road.
While I was still Illinois Secretary of State, my office ordered nearly 3,400 drivers to be retested in order for them to retain or obtain their commercial drivers license. In recent days, the current Illinois Secretary of State has ordered retesting for hundreds more and alerted nearly 15 states of the potential problem whereby truckers who obtained their licenses in Illinois under fraudulent or suspicious circumstances may have obtained licenses in other states.
We are committed to notifying all states that may have granted licenses to truckers under these suspect circumstances. At the same time, we cannot be sure that all such individuals have been identified, or that other States will take swift, immediate, and uniform action to ensure the highest levels of safety for the traveling public. We trust that more information regarding this serious safety issue is known to the Federal government, and is understandably subject to certain grand jury secrecy rules. We would urge you, working with the Department of Justice, to exercise your authority to the fullest extent of the law to identify the entire universe of those who may have obtained commercial licenses under suspect circumstances, and to ensure that state Departments of Motor Vehicles take strong action to remove immediately such individuals from the road until they can be re-tested and re-qualified.
We are committed to cooperating fully in these ongoing investigations, and to assisting you in any way possible to eliminate any threat to public safety posed by unqualified commercial drivers license-holders. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Kindest personal regards.
George H. Ryan
Governor of Illinois