New Texas law combats fake international CDLs

August 29, 2023

Keith Goble


A new Texas rule is drawing attention in the trucking industry.

Starting Friday, Sept. 1, this law in the Lone Star state will aid enforcement efforts to combat illegal truck driving. Specifically, it will require individuals holding a valid Mexican or Canadian commercial driver’s license to possess a U.S. government-issued work visa when operating in Texas.

Change described as necessary to counter fraud

The Texas Department of Public Safety says a B-1 visa is among the documents that satisfy the requirement.

An exception is made for Mexican CDL holders operating a commercial vehicle within the state’s border counties.

Advocates say the new law is needed to counter the ongoing problem of fraudulently issued Mexican CDLs without qualified testing measures.

Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said prosecutors across Texas have lacked a clear mechanism to adjudicate an offense involving tampering with a governmental record as it relates to possession of a fictitious Mexican CDL or other foreign documents.

“HB4337 seeks to address this issue by classifying a license, certificate, permit, seal, title, letter of patent or similar document issued by an applicable foreign government as a governmental record for purposes of offenses related to perjury or other falsification,” Hinojosa previously told a Senate committee.

He added that the new law allows Texas prosecutors to prosecute a government document from a foreign country that may be fake or counterfeit.

Texas DPS Captain Omar Villarreal said fraudulent driving documents present a significant threat to public safety and homeland security not only in Texas, but the entire United States.

“You have Central Americans that are illegally obtaining, through corrupt Mexican officials, commercial driver’s licenses,” Villarreal said during a virtual meeting hosted by the Texas Trucking Association. “Illegal immigrants from all countries that have falsely obtained Mexican commercial driver’s licenses are working and operating commercial vehicles all over the United States.”

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, said the new law clearly defines both Mexican and Canadian CDLs as government records. He told lawmakers the new law will assist Texas law enforcement in filing the appropriate charge for falsified documents or tampering with a government record.

“The change will further assist prosecution of such cases and will provide a deterrent to the continued criminal practice of the sale or possession of Mexican commercial driver’s licenses,” Canales said.


Once the rule takes effect on Friday, the clock will start on a 90-day grace period from citations. Troopers and law enforcement agencies around the state certified to inspect commercial vehicles can issue warnings and out-of-service violations during that time.

Villarreal noted that the act is not an arrestable offense. He added it was important that Texas acted, because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has not addressed the issue of fictitious documents.

“They really don’t seem to care,” Villarreal said. LL

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