Although driver’s licenses are administered at the state level, the requirements for getting your driver’s license are broadly the same from one state to another. Because of these similarities, you might assume that the various states communicate with one another to ensure only safe drivers are allowed on the roads.
Unfortunately, this is not the case – and the lack of communication is costing lives throughout the country.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident, or you lost a loved one in a crash, please call (715) 343-2850 today for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve clients throughout Wisconsin, including Plover, Marshfield, and more.
Last year, three members of the Rizzo family of Kenosha were killed and a fourth was seriously injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver. The driver, Timothy Vandervere, had his Wisconsin driver license revoked more than a decade earlier after a previous drunk driving accident. However, Vandereve held a valid driver license in Illinois, renewing it several times in the years leading up to the 2019 accident.
At the time of the fatal accident, Vandervere was estimated to be driving approximately 100 miles per hour. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was almost four times higher than the legal limit. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
“The defendant killed nearly an entire generation of my family that day.”
– Janet Duemke, daughter of family members killed in the accident
The Driver License Compact is an agreement among states to “exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forward them to the state where they are licensed known as the home state.” The exchange of information is supposed to cover both minor offenses, “such as speeding and suspension of license,” as well as major infractions, “such as DWI/DUI.”
Currently, 45 states are members of the Driver License Compact. Wisconsin is one of only 5 states that is not a member. As a result, Wisconsin officials do not share information on violations with officials in other states (as in the Vandervere case, where Illinois officials were not notified of Vandervere’s 2006 driver license revocation due to drunk driving).
Although officials in participating states may report violations to their counterparts in non-participating states, there is an alarming trend of officials in the home state ignoring or failing to act on these warnings. Because states have to opt in to the Driver License Compact, this effectively creates a loophole allowing dangerous drivers to resume activities behind the wheel without consequence if they live in or move to a different state.
The Boston Globe recently published an investigative report titled “Blind Spot.” In addition to examining the Vandervere case in Wisconsin, the Globe also investigated the case of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a truck driver from Massachusetts who has been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide after his truck collided with members of a motorcycle club in New Hampshire last year.
Just months prior to the fatal crash, Zhukovskyy was arrested in Texas for suspicious behavior and in Connecticut after failing sobriety tests. For refusing testing in Connecticut, his driver’s licenses (both individual and commercial) were suspended. Despite suspension of his commercial driver license, Zhukovskyy was operating a car carrier in Texas the very next month when he flipped the truck. The fatal New Hampshire crash occurred just weeks later.
Truck drivers routinely cross state lines as part of their hauls. The Zhukovskyy case demonstrates what happens when state agencies don’t exchange information about dangerous commercial drivers.
It is natural to wonder if a careless driver has caused an accident before, especially if they were driving drunk, texting while driving, or engaging in other reckless behavior. However, a driver’s prior history is difficult to find on your own. Your best course of action is to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer.
In claims involving passenger vehicles, evidence of the at-fault driver’s prior violations is generally not admissible in court. However, if the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle as part of his or her job at the time of the accident (as in a truck accident claim), previous violations may be introduced to establish the negligence of the employer.
Trucking companies and other businesses that use commercial vehicles are responsible for screening prospective employees for moving violations, substance abuse, and other issues that might make them dangerous on the road. These companies are also required to conduct routine drug and alcohol screenings to ensure drivers are not abusing intoxicants on the job.
Your lawyer will perform a thorough investigation into the driver’s history to determine if the at-fault driver has a history of:
In order to build a strong case on your behalf, our lawyers will obtain copies of the police report and other investigative findings for both your accident and prior accidents involving the at-fault driver. We will also investigate the driver’s employer for previous violations and negligence in the hiring and supervision of employees.
It is a sad fact that miscommunication and missing communication among state officials are keeping dangerous drivers on the road and putting innocent people’s lives in danger. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a car, truck, or other type of vehicle accident, you and your family deserve answers and justice for your losses.
Studinski Law, LLC takes the burden from you so you and your family can concentrate on reclaiming your lives. We hire the best experts and dig into the details of your case to ensure you have the best chance of securing the full compensation you deserve.
Please call (715) 343-2850 today for a free case evaluation. Studinski Law, LLC serves clients throughout Wisconsin including Plover, Marshfield, and other communities.