CDL Fraud: The Threat That Is Causing More Big Rig Crashes

two semi-trucks driving at dusk with headlights of cars behind themIt is no secret that commercial driver licenses (CDLs) are difficult to obtain. The size and weight of these vehicles pose a significant threat to the safety of others if the drivers operating them are not properly trained. Despite the rigorous requirements for getting a CDL, however, an estimated thousands to tens of thousands of truck drivers are operating on U.S. roads without a CDL.

At Anderson & Cummings, we deal with injury claims every day, including truck crashes. We have seen firsthand the catastrophic injuries victims have suffered because of negligent truck drivers. In this article, we discuss CDL fraud and how these truck drivers are getting away with it. We also discuss the very real dangers of having untrained and inexperienced truck drivers on the road.

Need legal help after a collision involving a semi-truck? If so, our experienced truck crash attorneys based in Fort Worth are prepared to help. We have decades of experience advocating for injured victims. Our law firm is deeply committed to fighting for the full and fair compensation you need following a crash with a negligent truck driver.

Call: (817) 920-9000 to discuss your situation in a FREE case review today.

What Requirements Do Drivers Need To Get a CDL?

To obtain a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) legally, there are a lot of requirements that drivers have to meet.

Drivers Must Meet Physical, Health and Wellness Requirements

To start with, you have to pass specific physical requirements before you can be cleared to pursue a CDL. In Texas, this means having the full use of both hands and feet, passing a hearing test and having 20/40 vision in both eyes (corrective lenses are permitted). Even if you pass these initial physical requirements, however, you may still not qualify.

Certain medical conditions could disqualify you from becoming a Texas truck driver, such as:

  • Certain physical, mental or emotional conditions that would make it unsafe for you to drive a vehicle
  • High blood pressure that is not currently being treated
  • Epilepsy
  • Alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Severe respiratory dysfunction

Learners Permit, Training and Road Test

After passing the physical requirements, your driving history will be reviewed. If you have serious moving violations, such as a history of DUIs, you will likely be disqualified from the process.

If you have a clean driving history, you will need to apply for a CDL learner’s permit. Once you get this permit, you will be able to begin behind-the-wheel training and practice what you have learned. However, you must first pass a written test to ensure you understand commercial rules and road laws in Texas, general knowledge and more.

Behind-the-wheel training is the next stop. Once you complete your training, you still have to take and pass a road test. If you want to be able to drive specific vehicles, such as a truck that transports hazardous materials, there are additional endorsements you need to get the proper certification.

This system is rigorous, but it is there to help ensure truck drivers have the skills and experience they need to stay safe on the road.

Texas Scheme Involving CDL Fraud Uncovered

In Texas, the FBI uncovered a scheme involving a Department of Public Service (DPS) employee in San Antonio who managed to issue 215 fake CDLs between January 2017 and June 2019. The DPS employee accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for the fraudulent licenses. Over 200 of these drivers have never taken a road test but are still driving on the road today.

Unfortunately, there are multiple CDL schemes occurring in other states as well.

How Are Truck Drivers Getting Fake CDLs?

A concerning number of drivers are bypassing legal channels to get their commercial driving licenses through dishonest means. In addition to schemes like the one in San Antonio, drivers may do any of the following to get a CDL:

  • Bribe officials – Often the person bribed may be a contact in the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Public Service (as happened in San Antonio).
  • Using fake documents: Truck drivers may use fake identification cards, fake birth certificates and other falsified documents to help them get a CDL.
  • Cheat on written exams: It is harder to cheat today, but in the past people have tried to use their cellphones to look up answers, write on their hands or use a Bluetooth device in their ear to have someone give them answers.
  • Instructors helping students: While instructors may often help students, pushing them through fraudulently is another story. Yet students were able to pass their written test because their instructors gave them passing grades they did not earn. Driving instructors also took money to pass students on their driving tests.
  • Truck-driving schools: As hard as it may be to believe, some schools responsible for training truck drivers were certifying students in exchange for money.

Safety experts estimate there may be thousands or tens of thousands of unqualified individuals driving these 80,000-pound vehicles.

Why Truck Drivers With Fake CDLs Are So Dangerous

Driving a semi-truck requires specific skills and knowledge. The danger posed by drivers with fake CDLs cannot be overstated. They have not been trained on critical safety aspects, such as:

  • Load balancing
  • Proper braking distances
  • Maneuvering, especially in emergencies
  • Backing up and driving in tight spaces
  • Proper logging and recording
  • Regulations – what they are and how to stay in compliance
  • Proper mechanical knowledge, such as pre-trip inspections, checking fluid levels and other fundamentals they should know about
  • And more

Not having these key skills increases the risk of catastrophic truck accidents. Drivers who cheat to get their CDL are also much less likely to follow regulations and may be more aggressive towards other motorists, such as by following too closely.

Are You a Victim of a Truck Driver’s Negligence? Call our Trusted Law Firm for Legal Help

CDL license fraud is a serious concern for everyone on the road. At Anderson & Cummings, we are committed to raising awareness about this issue and advocating for those impacted by the negligent and reckless driving behavior of truck drivers with fraudulent CDLs.

If you need a truck accident lawyer in the Fort Worth area, we are here to help. There are no upfront fees if we represent you. In fact, you do not pay us anything unless we win money for you through a settlement or jury-awarded verdict.

Anderson & Cummings. We work to get you the results you need. (817) 920-9000

*These are actual dollar amounts paid to clients after the deduction of attorney fees and expenses.


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