TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Good news for some of the nearly 2,000 truck drivers faced with forking over hundreds of dollars to keep their licenses.
After an 8 On Your Side investigation, state officials agreed to take a look at each case individually and work with truckers who face financial hardship.
That’s exactly what Jose Perez wants. He paid thousands to go to trucking school. But now, three years later, he was told if he doesn’t pay hundreds more to retake the driving test, the state is taking back his license.
“At the time, everything was ok,” he said. “And three years is a long time to get a letter like this.”
The letter says the state “has good cause to confirm your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.”
Helpless, Perez turned to 8 On Your Side for answers. We found this is tied to a fake truck driving school in Orlando, Larex, Inc. Perez had nothing to do with that school. Larex officials were indicted in July 2015 for selling CDL licenses to at least 600 Russians – even though they weren’t qualified and many could not speak English well enough to read the written portion of the test.
Perez got his training at 1st Class CDL Truck Training in Tampa. It turns out, one of the school’s state certified testers, Clarence Davis, was the same one officials say was bribed by the Russian school. First class CDL Training Director John Ciszek said his school has been bombarded with upset students who received this letter because they tested with Davis.
Ciszek said he himself tested with Davis and received the same letter. School officials feel bad, he said, because this school had nothing to do with what happened and had no control over the state inspector. He said they are trying to help students who have to retake the test by offering a discount. However, he said, he is concerned about other truckers who should not have passed the test.
“It’s very alarming because you have people out there who are driving 18 wheel vehicles that weigh 80,000 pounds that are not really qualified to be behind the wheel,” Ciszek said.
8 On Your Side spoke with truckers who are happy the state is taking a closer look at truckers who passed their test under Clarence Davis, but they think the state should not punish those who had nothing to do with it.
“It would mean a lot of money out of my pocket to retake the test, retake the class, money I’m still paying on the first one already and a lot of these guys are,” said trucker Matthew Lee.