Truck drivers without CDLs could face steeper punishment under proposed bill

Truck drivers who drive without a CDL could face steeper punishments under a proposed bill, but the bill has sparked debate among lawmakers.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 3:01 PM MST
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DENVER, Colo. (KKCO) - A debate is ongoing at the state capitol as Colorado lawmakers decide whether to increase penalties for truck drivers who don’t have commercial drivers licenses.

For Dez Everts, the answer couldn’t be more clear. “There should be stricter rules on this stuff. This stuff should not have happened.” Everts lost five family members nearly nine months ago in a crash on I-25. The driver did not have a valid commercial driver’s license.

A bill before Colorado lawmakers would make punishments harsher for truck drivers on the road without a valid CDL. A version was passed by the senate that makes it a misdemeanor, but lawmakers in the house amended the bill to make driving a truck without a proper license still a traffic violation, punishable with $100 in fines and a $15 surcharge.

Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, was not impressed. “It would effectively be the lowest penalty that we know of in the country,” said Fulton.

Fulton’s organization advocates for the trucking industry and lobbied to increase the punishment. He says that simple fines just mean that driving without a valid license becomes the cost of doing business.

“Our job is to make things safer each year, and this doesn’t do it,” said Fulton.

State Representative Matt Soper sponsored the bill in the Colorado House where the misdemeanor punishment was stripped. “There are plenty of penalties out there that cause me to think that the state of the law is just fine. The Motor Carriers’ concerns are a little bit overrated.” said Soper.

But, penalties like reckless driving and vehicular homicide are only triggered once a crash happens. Everts wants to prevent crashes before they happen.

“It makes me sick to my stomach. No other family should have to go through what we’re going through.”