By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Friday, August 23, 2013
Julio Davila opened his mail last spring, which included a friendly letter from the Iowa Department of Transportation.
“Dear: Julio Davila
SUBJECT: NOTICE OF DEPARTMENT RE-EXAM
The Office of Driver Services has received a Peace Officer request for your driving abilities to be re-examined. … Your cooperation is appreciated.”
A law enforcement officer had asked the state to require Davila, an OOIDA member, to be retested to keep his commercial driver’s license. Davila would be required to pass the driving test, written tests, and have a doctor submit a medical report in order to keep his CDL.
In addition to the bad news about his retest, Davila learned something else:
Iowa license holders can be forced to retake DMV examinations if a law enforcement officer or anyone – inside or outside Iowa – files a complaint with the state.
Deb Carney, compliance officer with the Iowa DOT’s Office of Driver Services, said the state has written forms that a law enforcement officer or private individual can fill out to request someone be retested.
Between July 2012 and July 2013, Carney’s office received 142 requests for commercial driver’s license holders to be re-tested. Of those requests, 22 were made by law enforcement officers.
Iowa requires requests for retests to include the requestor’s name, Carney said.
“We have to divulge the name of the person requesting it if the driver asks,” Carney said, “and they generally do ask.”
Iowa isn’t alone in allowing citizens to request an “unsafe driver” be retested. According to one 2012 article in Claims Journal, California, Florida and Michigan have similar policies. Several other states allow doctors and family members to report individuals they feel are unsafe.
Davila owns his own truck and is leased on with a trucking company, he told Land Line. The process of preparing for the test and gathering his medical information required him to miss a week of work.
His driving ability and understanding of commercial driving was proven when Davila passed the exam, though he still feels the retest was wrong.
“Since I’m leased on, it cost my boss money too,” Davila said. “He only makes money when my wheels are rolling.”
What if a feud between neighbors were to lead to a retest request?
“We do take everything into account,” Iowa DOT’s Carney said. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t test them still, but we do take any information from them we have into account and make a decision.”
Davila said in his case, the trooper who requested his retest seemed to have it out for him.
Twice in the last year, the trooper had cited Davila over concerns that his medications and tinted windows weren’t in line with the FMCSRs. Davila said he gets migraine headaches when he is exposed to bright lights, and said medication he takes for blood pressure makes his skin susceptible to irritation from sunlight. Davila challenged the citation each time and won.
Davila said troopers in Iowa are the only ones who have questioned him about the tint on his truck’s windows.
“I go to Laredo, Texas, Mexico, Missouri, Mississippi and go through the scales there and it’s never any problem,” Davila said. “It’s just Iowa; they’re real particular about the tint on the windows deal.”
The Iowa trooper who requested Davila’s re-exam was Keith Truog, who longtime Land Line readers may remember was accused of harassing a farmer and pulling his service weapon back in 2009. The farmer’s civil lawsuit was dismissed in 2010.
Davila said he too felt harassed by Truog, and considered filing a “request for re-evaluation of a law enforcement officer,” another form anyone can submit in Iowa.
Davila told Land Line he didn’t want to stir up trouble with law enforcement officers.
“I definitely don’t want to start something that’s gonna come back and bite me,” Davila said.
Davila said he plans to try and get exemption from FMCSA for his window tint because it’s medically necessary.
“I just haven’t had time,” he said. “I need to make money.”
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