Missouri OKs stricter out-of-service penalties, third-party tester restrictions

| 6/20/2006

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill into law Wednesday, June 14, that allows the state's Highway Commission to revoke licenses and registrations of motor carriers in certain circumstances. It also addresses concerns about unskilled truck drivers on roads in the state.

The new law, previously SB1001, authorizes the state to suspend, revoke or cancel the registration, license, permit or other credentials issued to motor carriers if a federal agency or the state commission has issued an out-of-service order against the motor carrier.

The rule is applicable to out-of-service orders placing a motor carrier's entire operation out of service. It will not apply to out-of-service orders placing an individual driver or vehicle out of service.

Affected motor carriers will be prohibited from operating any commercial motor vehicle and could not allow employees to operate commercial motor vehicles in intrastate or interstate commerce.

The motor carrier will be forced to surrender all license plates, motor carrier licenses, registrations, permits and other credentials.

After an order has been issued, out-of-state motor carriers will not be eligible to apply for the issuance or reinstatement of any license, registration, permit, certificate or other credentials until the out-of-service order has been rescinded or “the orders have been set aside by a court of proper jurisdiction.”

Another provision in the law is intended to eliminate the worst of the third-party testing facilities in the state. The change was made in response to allegations that a third-party CDL testing facility in West Plains, MO, accepted money in exchange for passing grades. The testing facility is run by a school district.

Third-party tester certification will be limited to junior colleges or community colleges, or to private companies that own, lease or maintain their own fleet and administer in-house testing to their employees or school districts and their agents that administer in-house testing to the school district's or agent's employees.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , Missouri is sending out letters to 600 drivers who were tested at the West Plains facility ordering them to re-take the driving portions of their exams.

This is the second such investigation to come to light in Missouri this year. Another third party tester in Sikeston, MO, has been under investigation on similar charges since 2005. In that case, the Department of Revenue is in the process of issuing letters to 2,200 drivers – in Missouri and other states – to re-take the driving portion of their CDL exams or surrender their licenses.