Illinois Corruption Scandal Recalls Illegal Sale of Truck Driver Licenses — St. Louis Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney

By December 22, 2008 Trucking Regulations

The corruption scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has prompted a series of news reports explaining the state’s history of corruption, such as this one from Time magazine. As the article points out, Blagojevich took office directly after former Gov. George Ryan, who was convicted on felony corruption and fraud charges similar to the ones Blagojevich may soon face. The scandal that brought Ryan down was especially interesting to me as a Missouri and Illinois trucking accident lawyer: Ryan was accused of selling commercial truck driver’s licenses to unqualified candidates who hadn’t passed the licensing test — and sometimes didn’t even speak enough English to take it.
That was the case with truck driver Ricardo Guzman, the recipient of one of the illegal licenses. According to this editorial, Guzman was driving a big rig on I-94 near Milwaukee when a metal assembly came loose from the rear of his semi. Other truck drivers on the road tried to warn him of the problem, but Guzman didn’t speak enough English to understand them. As a result of his inaction, the metal piece came loose from his truck on the highway and hit the fuel tank of a Chicago family’s minivan, causing a flash fire that killed the six children inside and left their parents with severe burns.
All told, the editorial says, authorities believe the illegal trucker licenses caused 55 accidents and 11 deaths. The bribes used to buy the false licenses helped elect Ryan to the governorship — and later helped send him to federal prison. Unfortunately, the licenses sold by Ryan’s office aren’t the only false truck driving licenses out there. As the Chicago Tribune reported in 2007, the federal government believes there could be as many as 15,000 valid commercial truck driving licenses obtained through bribery or fraud.
A large truck is a ten-ton machine that can literally crush smaller vehicles in an accident; it should never be given to an amateur. Truck drivers with fraudulent licenses endanger themselves and everyone around them. And when they cause a serious trucking accident, they — and the trucking companies that knowingly benefited from the fraud — should be held legally responsible for the results. Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients in Missouri and southern Illinois who have been seriously harmed in a crash caused by a truck driver’s bad decisions, whether or not the driver had a valid commercial license. If you or someone you love is in this position and you’d like to learn more about your options, you can contact our firm online for a free initial consultation.