SPECIAL REPORT: More than 90 Illinois CDL holders starting all over

| 8/9/2006

Aug. 9, 2006 - More than 90 truckers in the process of renewing the hazmat endorsements on their CDLs lost their licenses Friday, Aug. 4.

The state of Illinois sent letters to 506 hazmat endorsement renewal applicants less than two weeks ago informing them that because the process of completing the background checks had not been completed, their CDLs would be cancelled on Friday, Aug. 4.

Dave Drucker with the Illinois Secretary of States office confirmed that 95 out of the 506 notified were cancelled Aug. 4.

Those truckers whose CDLs were cancelled must now start the entire CDL licensing process over - including written and skills tests. Once re-licensed, the truckers may then reapply for the hazardous materials endorsement and undergo the background check process again.

Terry Montalbano with the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles told Land Line Magazine the reason the state notified the original 506 truckers of a possible suspension was because hazmat background check applications were not completed for a variety of reasons.

Up until July 27, Illinois used its own third-party vendors to collect the fingerprints for the TSA required background checks for hazmat endorsements. Truckers who applied for new or renewed endorsements had to fill out the paperwork at a state DMV office and have their fingerprints collected at a third-party facility contracted by the state.

Montalbano said that the fingerprinting portion of the process was not completed for the 506 truckers. He said the reasons the process was not completed ranged from truckers not reporting to the third-party facility to clerical errors on the submissions and in some cases "bad prints."

If prints are submitted that cannot be matched up with an existing application or are unreadable, the process of either granting or denying the application is not completed, Montalbano said.

He said applicants who had glitches with the fingerprint portion of the background check were notified and asked to resubmit their prints. In many of those cases the third-party vendors charged a fee for the resubmission, because the FBI charged the vendor.

Two truckers who contacted OOIDA because of the notification letters insist the only time they were notified that there was a problem with the background check process was when they received the notice of pending cancellation of their CDLs.

One of the two OOIDA members, Joe Kohnke, found out that despite having been fingerprinted at the end of March, the third-party vendor had not submitted the prints until late July - and there were problems with the paperwork submitted by the vendor.

Kohnke, after making phone calls for two days, discovered he had been approved for the endorsement, but that information had not been relayed to the state of Illinois.

On Aug. 3, the day before he was to be suspended, Kohnke was able to eventually secure a 90-day extension of his hazmat endorsement so the process of relaying the confirmation could be completed.

Randy Martin, the second OOIDA member, wasn't so lucky. When he returned home Aug. 5, he found out his CDL had been cancelled.

Martin said he had submitted his prints to a third-party vendor in November 2005 - who had to try three times to submit the prints from his left hand.

Martin told Land Line that in trying to find out what the problem was, he discovered the timing of his CDL renewal and a situation with the testing wound up creating his problem. By the time the needed paperwork reached the TSA, the fingerprints could not be found to match up with the paperwork.

Martin said he never received any kind of notice that there had been any kind of problem with his background check - until the cancellation letter.

The long-time trucker is currently in the process of retesting for his CDL because of the cancellation.

- By Jami Jones, senior editor