The state of Washington has decided to revamp its commercial
driver's license application process after several audits revealed third-party
testers were approving applicants faster than they could test them.
Audits beginning in 2005 showed that some applicants may
have had prior contact with third-party testers before their exams, and large
numbers of applicants were immediately leaving the state to "flip" CDLs to
their home states, said Brad Benfield, a spokesman for the Washington Licensing
Benfield confirmed that 125 CDL applicants had listed a
truck driving school in Lake Forest Park, WA, as their home. An additional 79
applicants had listed another school in Woodinville, WA, as home.
As many as 651 applicants may be using false addresses,
Benfield told Land Line.
"Over the course of these audits we discovered some kind of
alarming things," Benfield said. "We ran into situations where testers were
performing more tests than seemed physically possible."
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire has requested $1.5 million
annually to pay for 11 test administrators to take over work previously done by
a third-party contractor.
Contact between applicants and test administrators also
alarmed officials, Benfield said.
Benfield said the FBI and federal Homeland Security
Department are investigating CDLs issued in Washington in recent years, which
prompted the license department to emphasize a new system by which test
administrators are randomly paired with applicants.
"By creating a system to where people aren't getting to pick
their own testers we believe it will eliminate a lot of the opportunities for
fraud that currently exist," Benfield said.
Washington issues 13,000 new CDLs annually and renews about
30,000 existing CDLs, Benfield said.
Benfield said the state's existing system makes it a target
for illegal aliens seeking driver's licenses.
Though license applicants must reside in Washington, the
state doesn't require drivers to prove they're legal residents of the United
States, Benfield said.
"We see a lot of foreign nationals come here, get a license
and leave," he said.
- By Charlie Morasch,