Special truck court eyed in Indiana

| 8/22/2007

A series of wrecks involving large trucks in Indiana has state lawmakers talking about the state’s commercial driving laws.

The Interim Committee on Transportation Matters heard testimony Aug. 14 from experts from the transportation industry about the risks of collisions between cars and trucks. A retired county judge also touted the benefits of a new administrative hearing system that would handle traffic infractions issued to truck drivers.

Senior Judge Raymond Kickbush told lawmakers a centralized administrative court would be a better option for reviewing tickets issued to CDL holders than relying on the traditional court system. The administrative court would be staffed by regional hearing officers who are experts in commercial vehicle code, he said.

Kickbush said the new system is needed because both judges and prosecutors around the state sometimes overlook the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations when truck drivers get ticketed for traffic violations, The Evansville Courier & Press reported.

He said prosecutor’s offices have a tendency to offer “pretrial diversions” to first-time traffic violators because they are not familiar with federal regulations forbidding that option for CDL holders.

The committee chairman, Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, is on the record as being in favor of a commercial vehicle court. He cites CDL laws that are “very technical” and issues that are “very complicated.”

No decisions were made during the meeting, but lawmakers will review the information during future hearings, The Courier & Press reported. The committee could offer recommendations for consideration during the 2008 regular session.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Indiana in 2007, click here.