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“Masking” conceals unsafe commercial drivers making roadways hazardous.

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“Masking” is a term used for when people with commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) get lenient treatment in our nation’s courts. This allows offenders to hide their traffic offenses and stay on our highways without retribution.

Masking, although too often commonplace, is actually a violation of federal law and prohibited and states could get in trouble if their judges do not comply, according to retired Judge Gayle Williams-Byers.

Too often, however, a person with a CDL may be cited for a traffic offense in his/her private vehicle. When the violator appears in court, they claim that they will lose their job if the offense is reported to a state Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

As a result, says Judge Byers, prosecutors and judges too often reduce the original charge to a minor offense that is not reportable to the state, or which does not carry any points against the offender’s license.

This masking process is prohibited yet in some places it is the norm. It is being opposed by the National Highway Safety Administration.

To promote compliance, Congress passed the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 which requires the withholding of certain federal dollars from states who are not in compliance. Yet too many judges do not know that “masking” is illegal.

The National Judicial College and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are teaming up to raise awareness and thus make our highways safer.