Apparently commercial drivers who obtain a license under a different name after their legitimate one was suspended aren’t a rare breed, at least in New York state. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the latest and most sweeping crackdown on commercial drivers – a sting prompted by the horrific Bronx bus crash in March that killed 15 people – has resulted in removing 173 drivers commercial drivers from the roads, including 46 arrests.
Nearly 2,000 roadside inspections in recent days pulled drivers of tour buses, New York City MTA buses, taxi cabs, and other commercial vehicles off the road. The drivers arrested were charged with felonies for holding commercial licenses while owning other licenses suspended under different names. Authorities discovered many of the bum licenses by employing facial recognition technology, which allowed them to cross-reference photos on current and suspended licenses.
“With New York’s use of facial recognition technology, drivers who obtain multiple licenses under different names now have no place to hide,” Governor Cuomo said Monday. “We will not tolerate dangerous buses and drivers or fraud in obtaining a license.”
The latest sting brings the number of buses removed from the road to nearly 250. Additionally, more than 200 drivers have been sidelined, many likely permanently, and hundreds of tickets for safety violations have been issued.
“Many of the individuals arrested (Monday) obtained multiple driver licenses in order to collect benefits, and even worse, to conceal violent criminal histories,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Drivers accused of using aliases to obtain multiple commercial licenses have been charged with using false instruments for filing and for falsifying business records.
Such is the case with the driver of the bus that crashed in the Bronx in March. Federal and state probes of Ophadell Williams discovered he used aliases to avoid losing his license after he was involved in other driving incidents. Mr. Williams also served two years in prison for a 1990 stabbing and was jailed for three years in 1998 on a grand larceny conviction.
Likewise, authorities investigating the death of a pedestrian who was struck by a bus in New York City Saturday learned that the driver has been cited for several traffic violations since 1997, including three car crashes, speeding, and two citations for driving with a suspended license.
According to the Associated Press, many of the sidelined drivers had numerous traffic tickets that they ignored, while others were wanted under felony warrants or sought for deportation.