46 Commercial Drivers In NY Charged With Felonies In License Crackdown

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Nearly four dozen drivers of tour buses, New York City buses, taxis and other commercial vehicles are being charged with felonies for holding commercial licenses even though they had other licenses suspended under different names, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The latest and broadest crackdown on commercial drivers comes after a March tour bus crash that killed 15 people returning to New York City from a casino in Connecticut. It makes use of facial recognition technology that matches photos of driver’s licenses issued under other names.

The licensed drivers include four working for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, one of whom is a mechanic who also drives buses in MTA facilities. The driver’s licenses are suspended pending court action.

“Many of the individuals arrested today obtained multiple driver licenses in order to collect benefits, and even worse, to conceal violent criminal histories,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Cuomo told The Associated Press that the 46 arrests were the result of partnerships with authorities from the New York City Police Department and U.S. Customs along with prosecutors in Westchester, Rockland and Nassau counties and Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Drivers accused of using aliases to obtain multiple licenses are being charged with offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records.

In addition, several drivers had a long list of pending traffic tickets to which they never responded and now face aggravated unlicensed operation charges. Others were wanted under felony warrants or had been sought for deportation. Nineteen drove taxis.

“With New York’s use of facial recognition technology, drivers who obtain multiple licenses under different names now have no place to hide,” Cuomo said Monday. “We will not tolerate dangerous buses and drivers or fraud in obtaining a license.”

Most of the drivers had New York City addresses, but they came from elsewhere, including Sleepy Hollow and Hempstead.

Since the March 12 crash, Cuomo has directed the state Department of Motor Vehicles, Inspector General Ellen Biben and the state Department of Transportation to work with local police and prosecutors to scrutinize the tour bus industry in New York.

Last month, nearly 100 buses and more than 100 bus drivers were removed from the road in surprise inspections.

The state Department of Transportation has made 1,960 surprise roadside inspections since March 17. State police issued 197 tickets and 173 bus drivers and 143 buses were sidelined.

The DMV’s facial recognition technology, first used last year, has so far identified more than 3,000 people with multiple licenses. More than 600 were arrested on felony charges.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Ninth Crusade

    Wow! The FEDS spend millions to harass commercial truckers nationwide and regulate them out of business while illegal commercial bus drivers are killing groups of innocent people. What a mess! Ron Paul in 2012!

  • Capt Lou

    Maybe state DMV’s need finger print recognition to avoid this problem, providing the ACLU finds no fault in it!

  • wayne owens,

    Why now does cosmos, order this investigation, how long have they had this facial recognition camera, ???????? how long have they had this abilility, ?????? WHY didnt they do this investigation many months ago why dont they do it every month ?????? you see these transit workers everywhere doing nothing ?????? cosmos is closing the gate after the cows are gone. its too late. stupid, your people didnt do there jobs and many people died because of it, and the buck stop with YOU cosmos >>>>>????

  • 29 years no accidents

    John B & NY CDL – What planet do you live on. Drivers lic suspensions and multiple tickets are given to drivers who break the driving laws. Thus they are dangerous or just don’t care. They are not talking about someone who gets a ticket every few years. Of course there are drivers that get away with things and are not ticketed but does that mean that the ones that are caught should be ignored left to drive? When you own the company feel free to hire all the ex-cons you want. Sure put the thieves on a tour bus that makes stops and people leave their bags on the bus to be ransacked. Also you can ride on the bus with the driver that has 5 accidents and 7 tickets in the last year and has a suspended lic. He is not a bad driver, it is just the luck of the draw. Why not take your family on that bus also.

  • John B

    There’s no connection that someone with an alias drivers license or even tickets outstanding is actually a bad or dangerous driver or that other commercial drivers with all their paperwork in order are perfect little saint drivers. It’s the luck of the draw with respect to the personality of the individual. More pertinent would be their criminal arrest history coupled with the type of person they are. A lot of these drivers are hotheads and swerve and cut off people and flip off people for years but somehow never crash or get spotted. And plenty of them have their licenses in perfect order. Half the accomplishment of a crackdown like that is just to confiscate vehicles for impound fees and squeeze bail money out of custodies. With less than a quarter (I would guess) of these people they nab being bad drivers at all.

    • A NY CDL driver

      Dunno, John….a criminal record may be meaningless as it relates to someone;s
      fitness to drive a bus, depending on the nature of the offenses. There;s no reason a former bank-robber or drug-dealer should automatically be disqualified from driving a bus on the basis of those convictions alone.

      • H. E. Vincent

        A former drug dealer should be barred from breathing the same air as the rest of us. Anyone low enough to deal drugs shouldn’t even be living.
        Give them at least 100 for one. 100 cc’s of thiopental for an ounce of drugs pushed.
        Works for me- would work for the nation.

  • Dennis . S

    Yes it about time we are the one that pay to work and work hard and theses people that lie cheat and steal cause harm to many in this country they have CDL AND DON’T SPEAK ENGLISH YET THE RULES STATE THAT THEY MUST KNOW ENGLISH THEY NEED TO CRACK DOWN ON THAT TOO.

    • Yes Sir

      Would the crackdown include you because your English is horrible? Are you legal?

      • H. E. Vincent

        You know fully well what Dennis meant, yet you want too go the apples-oranges route. He was clear enough for your peabrain to comprehend, now wasn’t he?

      • H. E. Vincent

        Go ahead jerk correct the intentional errors in my reply. Can you find them? Can you count them? Do you know their exact intent anyway?

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