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Administrative Adjudication of Overweights – Part 2

The morning after a trip to the grocery store, you crack open a new box of Fruit Loops and sit down to an (un)healthy breakfast. However, when you pour out the cereal, the bag is full of Cheerios! It’s irrelevant what the box said, all that matters is what was inside. In the Illinois Vehicle Code, moving violations are like Cheerios, and the various chapters of the IVC are the cereal boxes. Moving violations can be found in many chapters of the IVC, and overweights are wholly moving violations. And because overweights are moving violations, they cannot be administratively adjudicated.

Before we explore the geography of the IVC and see how moving violations are everywhere, some definitions need clarification.

The terms “moving violation” and violations concerning the “movement of vehicles” are completely interchangeable. For clarity, this article will primarily be using the term “moving violation”. However, there is no legal definition of what a moving violation is! Nowhere is the IVC is there such a statute.

Generally speaking, Illinois police officers are trained that moving violations are found in Chapter 11 of the IVC. In fairness, this is where the most common violations like speeding, red lights, DUI, reckless driving and stop signs reside.

The mistake police officers make is they naively believe this is the only chapter where moving violations are found. Interestingly, Chapter 11 has been titled by the General Assembly as “Rules of the Road”, not “Moving Violations”. Also of note, Chapter 12 of the IVC is titled “Equipment of Vehicles”, but the section which prohibits texting and cell phone use (625 ILCS 5/12-610.2(c)) specifically mentions a second offense is a moving violation.

Because there is no statutory definition of a moving violation, the police are left with what the courts have interpreted the term to mean. The benchmark case which defines a “moving violation” is Catom Trucking, Inc v City of Chicago (2011 IL App (1st) 101146). Interestingly, one of the four opinions of the 1st Appellate District in this case centered on the City of Chicago unlawfully administratively adjudicating overweight violations.

In both the Municipalities (65 ILCS) and Counties Codes (55 ILCS), home-rule units of government are authorized to perform administrative adjudication. It is here an identical statement is found:

“A system of administrative adjudication means the adjudication of any violation of a municipal ordinance, except for… (ii) any offense under the Illinois Vehicle Code or a similar offense that is a traffic regulation governing the movement of vehicles and except for any reportable offense under Section 6-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.”

In the Catom case, the Appellate Court looked at the City ordinance regarding overweight violations, which specifically says the words “moved upon”. The Court also compared this ordinance to the City ordinance authorizing oversize/overweight permits and to the Illinois Vehicle Code. They found the language in both the City code and the IVC to be similar (aka “concurrent”), and the term “moved upon” to mean a moving violation.

Therefore, even though the City of Chicago has home-rule authority, they cannot administratively adjudicate overweight violations.

Now the clever reader realizes there are two different kinds of overweight violations, those found in Chapter 15 of the IVC regarding gross and axle weights, and those found in Chapter 3 of the IVC regarding registered weight. Was the Court in the Catom case talking about both, or just the Chapter 15 overweights?

Let’s look at language of both. The Catom case specifically mentions Chapter 15 (625 ILCS 5/15-101) as a moving violation:

“It is unlawful for any person to drive or move on…upon or across any highway any vehicle or vehicles of a size and weight exceeding the limitations stated in this Chapter or otherwise in violation of this Chapter”

Similarly, the language regarding overweights on registration in 625 ILCS 5/3-401 is nearly identical:

“(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any provision of this Chapter or to drive or move or for an owner knowingly to permit to be driven or moved upon any highway any vehicle of a type required to be registered hereunder which is not registered or for which the appropriate fee has not been paid when and as required hereunder “

Notice both IVC statutes encompass the whole Chapter to which they belong. Notice each statute uses language identical to which the Court says is to be considered a moving violation. They cannot be administratively adjudicated.

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