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Administrative Adjudication of Overweights – Part 3

One of the raging debates in national politics is the issue of exclusive authority. For instance, is immigration reform under the purview of the federal government, or can states pre-emptively regulate it? The same arguments can be found regarding gun control, abortion or a national driver’s license. The ITEA has no opinion on these topics, but similar to how the states and the federal government butt regulatory heads, the State of Illinois and local government in Illinois do the same. This is plainly seen when it comes to CDL holders and administrative adjudication of overweight violations. It’s in these situations the laws of the State of Illinois has exclusive authority.

An interesting twist in this debate over whether or not local government may administratively adjudicate overweight violations revolves around the Catom v. Chicago lawsuit mentioned in the previous article on this blog. That case was used to prove that overweight violations are moving violations, and therefore cannot be administratively adjudicated by local government.

However, the Appellate court also said in the Catom case that an overweight violation was not a “reportable offense”. This is only partially true.

In 625 ILCS 5/6-204(c), the General Assembly mandates the clerks of the circuit court to forward convictions of “any offense under this Code or similar offenses under a municipal ordinance” to the Secretary of State. Predictably, the legislature then excepts certain violations. This list includes “standing, parking, or weights of vehicles”. Further, the law lists a plethora of IVC violations (including the gross/axle overweights in 15-111) and City of Chicago ordinances.

It is by this plain reading that the Appellate court ruled that “overweights” are non-reportable. The Court neglected to keep reading past this paragraph though. Two paragraphs down, the legislature requires that all violations (except parking), including those previously excepted, must be reported by the clerk to the SOS for any holder of a commercial driver’s license. In any vehicle, whether the vehicle requires a CDL or not.

Notice that none of the registration offenses found in Chapter 3 are listed. They are reportable offenses. An overweight on registration does not automatically find itself non-reportable because it is a “weight of vehicle” violation. It is a registration tax violation and a moving violation all rolled up into one. It’s report to SOS is mandated.

The Secretary of State has an exclusive right to review all traffic violations committed by CDL holders. Local government cannot pre-emptively choose to make an end run around this mandate by administratively adjudicating overweight violations outside of the venue of the circuit court. The exclusivity of the SOS in these matters is plainly seen in the case of Ryan v. Hanover Park (1999).

In this case, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that local government could not create an alternative traffic enforcement program which pre-empted the rights of the SOS to take disciplinary action against certain violators. In other words, if the municipality is writing ordinance tickets for violations which could “cancel, suspend and revoke” a driver’s license, then SOS must be notified.

“Whoa whoa whoa” says the municipal employee. Did the law not say that convictions for municipal ordinances must be reported? Would it not stand to reason that an administratively adjudicated overweight to a CDL holder could be reported to the SOS?

The answer is no. The SOS does not, and will not, receive reports from municipal government. The law only permits them to receive reports from the circuit clerk. The issue here is venue. As mentioned in a previous article, only certain municipal ordinance violations may be administratively adjudicated in the venue of the municipality. All municipal ordinances may be adjudicated in the venue of the circuit court.

“Whoa whoa whoa” says the truck driver. So no matter how inconsequential the violation was, the circuit clerk has to report my violations to the SOS, even if committed in my personal car, solely because I am a CDL holder?

The answer is yes, however not every violation has a negative impact on the CDL. The SOS has the exclusive right to review violations committed by CDL holders to determine if there is a statutory reason to take disciplinary action on the CDL. As mentioned last week, there is no definition of the term “moving violation”.

The SOS has to take action on the CDL when the offense committed, as reported by the circuit clerk, is required to do so by statute. Overweight violations, even though they are technically “moving violations”, do not require any action by the SOS. Other than stiff fines, there are no licensing penalties assigned in the overweight statute. Overweights are not serious traffic violations in the IVC (625 ILCS 5/1-187.001) nor the FMCSR (Part 383.51).

All traffic offenses are coded using the AAMVA Code Dictionary (ACD) which provides uniform coding between all the states for CDL holders. Guess which offense has no points? That’s right…overweights.

Overweights cannot be administratively adjudicated because they are moving violations. They cannot be administratively adjudicated when the offense is committed by a CDL holder because that makes them reportable offenses. Local governments who administratively adjudicate overweight violations are exceeding their lawful authority.

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