In a multi-jurisdictional investigation that has netted more than a dozen arrests, state and local authorities have busted a ring that enabled drivers to fraudulently obtain commercial licences. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
In order to drive a commercial vehicle, drivers need to take a special test.
According to authorities, however, a crime ring was enabling potential drivers to skip this step and go straight behind the wheel.
"The cheating scheme we have exposed involves the written test portion of the commercial driver's license commonly known as the CDL. This license is needed to drive a truck or a bus in the state of New York," says New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott.
Nineteen people have now been arrested, including 11 ringleaders and eight drivers.
A multi-agency investigation involving the state inspector general, the U.S. attorney's office and the Manhattan district attorney uncovered the scheme using surveillance to catch cheaters in the act.
Drivers paid between $1,400 and $4,000 to get the license.
When it came time to take the test at the Department of Motor Vehicles, test takers were handed either a pencil with the answers written on it, or the test itself was taken to someone else with knowledge of the answers.
"These drivers received licenses that allowed them to drive vehicles weighing several tons, carrying hazardous materials or passengers, even school children, without ever having completed the basic exams qualifying them to do so," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
The crimes allegedly took place at five DMV locations throughout the city and Long Island.
DMV officials say the vulnerability involving the written exam has since been corrected.
"From now on, CDL permit tests will be given on a touch screen test station that utilizes random questions on each test. This process will eliminate the paper test that was the focus of this investigation," said DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala.
Authorities say the main concern from this case is safety.
The test exists for a reason: to prevent bad or dangerous drivers from operating commercial vehicles.
Last year, there were 3,500 accidents involving commercial vehicles just in Manhattan.