STILLWATER, Okla. – A new federal law is causing headaches for nearly 30,000 commercial drivers in our state.
Their driver licenses are being downgraded after they failed to validated their medical cards.
Some CDL holders say they didn’t know about the law until it was too late.
There are less commercial drivers on Oklahoma roads as of Tuesday afternoon and two of them used to work at Richards Construction and Paving in Stillwater.
“My husband and my son cannot work,” said Anita Houston, frustrated over federal regulation. “Some people are losing their job over this law.”
Anita Houston’s husband recently had his CDL status downgraded after failing to validate his medical card with the Department of Public Safety.
Houston says her husband never received a notice in the mail about the new federal regulations because they have a P.O. Box address.
“I want my husband to be able to pay a fine because we did not comply in time,” said Houston. “I understand, but we shouldn’t have to be penalized for that.”
Some would say long time commercial drivers are being penalized in a big way.
“When you already drove for 25-years with no at fault accidents why would you need to do that again?” said Houston.
NewsChannel 4 did some research and found that in order for Houston’s husband and other previous CDL holders to get their status reinstated, they would have to start from the beginning and go through the process of re-applying and sitting through classes.
“I can understand their frustration,” said Lt. Brian Orr, Oklahoma Highway Patrol.”It’s a safety issue and that’s what we’re concerned about.”
The Department of Public Safety issued a temporary extension for previous CDL holders.
The department is removing the downgrade so CDL drivers can still work.
Drivers have until the end of 2014 to validate their medical card.
Senate Bill 1332 would prevent CDL holders from having to start from scratch.
The bill if passed into law states,
“The bill provides that failure to submit the federally required medical certification for a commercial driver license shall result in an automatic downgrade to a Class D license. However, once medical certification is received by DPS, the license shall be reinstated to a commercial status without the need to reapply.”
“This bill will go and kind of repeal part of the federal laws requirements to go back to take the drivers test all over,” said Rep. Todd Russ, “We will have to push this thing as far as we have too to keep Oklahoman on the job and paying the bills for their families.”
The house made some changes to the bill Monday so the senate will have until the end of May to either accept or reject those amendments.
For more information on the status of your CDL or questions please call the Department of Public Safety at (405)425-2020 or visit their website.