Upcoming Webcast: Compliance: A Best Practice State
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The National Center for State Courts is pleased to announce the fourth in a series of six webcasts addressing critical commercial driving issues facing state courts.
Join the Commercial Driving Resource Center for the fourth webcast in the monthly series entitled, "Compliance: A Best Practice State" to be broadcast on April 18 at 2:00 p.m. EST.
This webcast series is funded by a grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the Department of Transportation.
U.S. Department of Transportation Raises the Bar for Safety with National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Final Rule
State-by-State Application of Rule
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an important new safety rule that requires healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver's ability to safely operate the vehicle. The final rule also creates a national online database of medical examiners who have completed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) certification process.
"Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely."
FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule as part of the agency's commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers, and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. This rule addresses four National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations on comprehensive training for medical examiners, and tracking of driver medical certificates.
In 30 days, FMCSA will post its uniform training and testing standards for medical examiners at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/. At that time, health care professionals, drivers, employers, law enforcement officers and the public can review the training standards and sign up to receive updates on the implementation of the rule.
By May 21, 2014, all certified medical examiners must be on the National Registry database, and drivers must obtain a medical examination from a certified examiner. Medical examiners that fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry.
To allow time for testing and training centers to prepare their curricula and receive FMCSA approval, healthcare professionals seeking to become certified examiners can begin registering on the National Registry Web site this summer.
"Truck and bus drivers deserve highly-trained medical examiners that think safety first," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "By holding medical examiners accountable to high standards of practice, we raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety."
Medical examiners perform approximately three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. A Department of Transportation medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver's medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing.
All commercial drivers must pass a Department of Transportation medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their commercial driver's license and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle.
To learn more about the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule, visit http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
Lack of Competence; Failure to Communicate
Violations of SCR 20:1.1 and 20:1.4(b)
Submitted 6-08 by Judge Jason Hanson, Circuit Court, Madison, WI
A man hired an attorney to represent him in three pending Racine County cases resulting from his arrest for first-offense operating while intoxicated (a civil offense) and his refusal to consent to a breathalyzer/blood test. At the time of his arrest, the man held a commercial driver's license (CDL) and made his living driving trucks. The attorney understood that the client's primary objective with regard to the pending charges was to retain his CDL or obtain an occupational permit on his CDL so that he could continue to earn his living.
After the client was arrested but before he entered into a plea agreement on the pending charges, a federal law change went into effect disqualifying drivers convicted of OWI from obtaining an occupational permit on a CDL for one year. The attorney was fully aware of the law change and its effective date but mistakenly believed that it would not apply because the client's arrest had been before the effective date.
By failing to thoroughly prepare and to accurately research and analyze the law relevant to the client's case, resulting in misadvising the client that he would be eligible to obtain an occupational CDL, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.1, which states, "A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client," defined as requiring the "legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation."
By: 1) failing to explain to the client the possibility and procedures for reopening his case after he was denied an occupational CDL; 2) failing to explain to the client before his plea that there had been a change in the law relevant to occupational CDLs and that the attorney had not confirmed the client would be eligible for an occupational CDL; 3) failing to discuss with the client that the attorney was having difficulty coming up with a solution for the client's ineligibility for an occupational CDL; and 4) failing to promptly inform the client that the attorney had been advised by the court that there were no other steps available to cause the client to obtain an occupational CDL, and so that in each instance the client could make informed decisions regarding the representation, the attorney violated SCR 20:1.4(b), which states, "A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation."
The attorney had no prior discipline.