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An Unbreakable Bond

Think back…WAY back.  High school chemistry.  Did you pass?  Did you fail?  Do you care?  Probably not, but one of the core points of chemistry is bonding.  There are covalent bonds, ionic bonds and dipole bonds just to name a few.  When the negatively charged electron circles a positively charged proton, BAM!  A bond is created.  Depending on the elements involved, the bond may be super strong or maybe super weak.  Now before you think this author has been watching too much Breaking Bad, realize that when it comes to registration for combinations of vehicles, there is a bond there too.  And it cannot be broken.

Generally speaking, trucks and trailers are second division vehicles.  This means they are designed to carry passengers or to pull/carry cargo.  The full definition is listed in 625 ILCS 5/1-217.  Therefore, second division vehicles are required to purchase weighted registration as cited in 625 ILCS 5/3-401(d)(1).  Many problems in understanding registered weight come from police officers and truckers alike being hung up on the word “weight”.  It is too easily correlated with the “weight” laws of Chapter 15 of the Illinois Vehicle Code like gross weight and axle weight. In reality these two definitions of “weight” rarely cross paths.  They are for the most part mutually exclusive.

Registered weight should be thought of for exactly what it is: a tax.  The more money you make, the more income tax you pay.  The more expensive a new car, the more sales tax you pay.  The more registered weight you want to buy, the more tax you pay the Illinois Secretary of State.   There are exceptions to the requirement to purchase registered weight.

Not all second division vehicles require weighted registration.  Vehicles like semi-trailers and charity vehicles may be second division vehicles, but do not pay into a tiered system of registration tax.  It’s easy to understand a second division vehicle exceeding its registered weight would be considered overweight.  The complication occurs when there are two vehicles in combination.  This is where the unbreakable bond comes into play.

In 625 ILCS 5/3-401(d)(3), the legislature speaks to combinations of vehicles and registered weight.  The simple rule is this…if there are two vehicles in combination, the sum total of both vehicles registered weights equals the total registered weight.  For example, a truck has paid for “H” truck plates (26,000 pounds) and is towing a trailer bearing “TD” trailer plates (10,000 pounds).  The total registered weight is 36,000 pounds.  Therefore, until the gross weight (on the scale) of both vehicles exceeds 36,000 pounds, the vehicles are not overweight on registration.

What trips up most people is when an individual vehicle in a combination is overweight itself.  Take the above combination described in the previous paragraph.  A police officer has reason to believe that combination is overweight on registration and orders the driver to weigh.  At the scale, the total gross weight is 35,500 pounds.  The officer checks each vehicle and finds that the truck weighs 20,000 pounds (less than its registered weight of 26,000 pounds) and the trailer weighs 15,500 pounds (in excess of its registered weight of 10,000 pounds).  Can the police officer then write the driver an overweight on registration for the trailer weight exceeding its registered weight by 5,500 pounds?

The answer is a resounding NO!  There is a bond that cannot be broken.  The registered weight is the combination of both plates.  That’s it.  It may very well be unsafe, stupid or both, but it is not overweight on registration.   The two cannot be separated.

Is there an exception?  Of course there is.  Sometimes first division vehicles tow second division vehicles…picture a minivan towing a boat trailer.  The minivan is a first division vehicle and is not required to pay into a tiered registered weight tax system like its second division cousins.  The boat trailer is a second division vehicle and is required to pay the tax.  In this rare instance, the two vehicles would have to be separated and the trailer weighed alone.  If the gross trailer weight on the scale exceeds its registered weight, then it is overweight on registration.  However, the fine is calculated using the cost of the truck plate needed cover its weight.

Confused?  Don’t be…that’s why the ITEA exists.  Don’t call with your chemistry questions though.

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