SOS takes action against driving school
June 14, 1999
Secretary of State Candice S. Miller today announced that the Escanaba Truck Driving School in the Upper Peninsula town of Carney, Menominee County, will pay up to $120,000 to retest more than 550 commercial drivers after an investigation by the Department of State revealed that the school had improperly administered commercial driver license tests.
"Drivers who are not properly tested can present a serious danger to themselves and other motorists on the road, so it was imperative that we address this issue decisively and aggressively," Secretary Miller said. "We have a duty to protect the public by ensuring that drivers are properly trained and that established testing standards are strictly adhered to. While the findings of this investigation are disturbing, it is to the credit of staff and departmental procedures that we were able to bring this issue to a successful resolution."
Those drivers requiring retesting will receive instructions in the mail informing them that they must retake the road test by Sept. 1, 1999, at an authorized third-party testing organization. A voucher will be included to cover the costs of the testing.
During the course of its 11-month investigation, the department uncovered a series of violations committed by the Escanaba Truck Driving School, including:
- Not administering tests in accordance with Department of State standards.
- Failing to administer certain parts of road tests.
- Allowing staff who were not authorized to administer tests to assist during testing procedures.
- Falsifying test documents.
- Selling certificates without administering tests.
Secretary Miller explained that the agreement to pay $120,000 for retesting is the latest action ordered, based on the department's findings. The department has already revoked the road test examiner certification for at least 10 years and suspended the driver school instructor license for five years of one of the school's owners. An examiner who was employed at the time the infractions occurred has also lost his third party tester status for 10 years.
In addition, the instructor's license of another employee has been placed on probation for three years, including a six-month suspension. Although the school will still be able to provide classroom instruction, it will no longer have the authority to conduct any road or skills tests.
Department investigators also worked with the Menominee County Prosecutor's Office, resulting in two felony warrants being brought against the school owner whose examiner's certification and instructor's license were revoked. He is charged with issuing road test certificates without administering the tests. If convicted, the man could face up to five years in prison, a maximum $5,000 fine or both.
The department's Procedures Development and Testing Section regulates, monitors and trains staff for the 200 third-party testing organizations in the state. The section also oversees the licensing of 148 commercial driving schools throughout the state, including 18 commercial truck driving schools such as the one in Carney.
As part of its regulatory responsibility, the department ensures that the proper hours of instruction are being given, that all instructors are licensed, and that records are available for public review. The department also investigates customer complaints and ensures that commercial driving schools are providing the services promised to their students.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 established the guidelines for testing and certifying drivers of large trucks nationwide. Michigan has some of the most stringent testing standards in the country. More than 250,000 Michigan drivers have a commercial driver license.