There are two days every year when Illinois truck enforcement officers are out, en masse, scouring the road for easy overweight tickets. The first occurrence is April 1st. Why? Because all the apportioned plates that have not been renewed by the end of the business on Monday, March 31st, will be overweight on registration. Truckers – if you are an interstate carrier running on apportioned plates, best get the job done ASAP! Police officers – if you are going to be doing this enforcement in a few weeks, best to brush up on procedure by reading the rest of this article.
Here’s the ground rules for apportioned plate enforcement:
1. Illinois and Quebec are kin What the heck? If you didn’t know, the lower 48 states and the Canadian provinces are members of the International Registration Plan (IRP). Illinois and Quebec are the only two units which validate IRP entirely on a fiscal year of April 1st – March 30th. Several other jurisdictions validate quarterly, but the vast majority stagger monthly.
2. There is no grace period Several states (KS,LA,WY,TX,OR,OK,NC,NE,MS,CO) have grace periods to extend enforcement protections past their expiration dates. These grace periods must be honored by Illinois law enforcement, but Illinois does not have a grace period of its own. At 12:01am on April 1st, the plates are expired.
3. Apportioned plates are not “expired” Okay, technically the plates are not expired. When a police officer runs a check of the Illinois apportioned plates through the LEADS system, the return will come back “no record on file”. This means the registration has been purged from the system altogether. In which case, it’d be sagacious to implement the common commercial fleet advice: install a telematics system so that the company would know of the vehicle’s location. In contrast, flat weight registration will remain in the system as “expired”.
4. Check and re-check Illinois apportioned plates are deceptive. Regular apportioned plates start with the letter “P” and are usually followed by six numbers. Apportioned tow truck plates atart with “W5”. There are no spaces between the “P” or any numbers. It is totally understandable that an officer may run a check of “P319139” when in fact the plate was “P319319”. Even though the truck may be moving at highway speeds, double check the plate if you can to avoid a false positive. It will save you from pulling out into traffic and chasing down the wrong truck.
5. Run the truck by VIN through LEADS, with a title search Just because you may have found a legitimate “no record on file” apportioned plate does not mean the truck does not have registration. The investigation does not stop there. Quality truck enforcement officers will do everything they can to prove the truck has registration, not revel in the “ah-ha” moment of proving they do not.
A truck may very well have had Illinois apportioned plates the year before, but maybe this new year they opted to go back to flat weight plates. Or maybe they have domiciled in another jurisdiction. A check of nearby states or a title search may yield crucial information if the truck has another form of registration.
6. Run the VIN through CVIEW If you are a truck officer in Illinois and do not have access to CVIEW, please do not waste the time of the trucking industry and the Secretary of State by doing apportioned plate enforcement. It is not uncommon for a lag in LEADS to be updated. The information in CVIEW will be current from the end of the last business day prior.
7. Make the phone call Drivers love to tell police officers they have registration and there must be something wrong in the paperwork. Maybe they are lying, maybe they are not. In these situations, the quality truck officer will call the owner, fleet supervisor or safety manager and ask if they have received their 2015 IRP even though it is not coming up in the system. If they say yes, have them scan/email or fax it to you. If they are telling the truth, let them go.
8. You must weigh the truck Read the articles coming to this blog the next two weeks. There is no shortcut here. You cannot base your ticket from the registered weight for the previous years registration. You cannot base your ticket off the manufacturers GVWR. You cannot base your ticket off a scale ticket from a weight you did not witness being taken. If you are going to do apportioned plate enforcement, you are going to have to do the hard work of dragging the truck to the scale.
9. The cost of the necessary plate is the bail/fine. Cite under 5/3-401D It’s easy to spot an uninformed truck officer on April 1st. There’s a myth that floats around in truck enforcement circles that if a truck does not have valid registration, the truck is not entitled to gross or axle weights in Chapter 15. This is completely absurd. The truck could independently be overweight on gross or axle, but that is totally exclusive from registration.
If the truck does not have registration, the bail/fine is the cost of the registration to cover the gross weight of vehicle(s). It is not overweight on gross. It is not a violation of 15-111(a).
10. When in doubt, issue a recognizance bond The fact is mistakes happen. If you could be in Springfield at the Commercial & Farm Truck Division headquarters of the Secretary of State between now and April 1st, it is utter chaos. Everyone and their uncle is waiting until the last minute to renew their fleet. This is not a simple credit card swipe like regular plates. It is cumbersome paperwork process.
It takes time to get all the paperwork entered. Computers fail. Humans fail. If all the checks mentioned above yield no registration, a little red flag may go up that something is amiss. If you must write the ticket, give them an I-bond or notice to appear and let them prove their innocence in court without having to post an extraordinary cash bail.
After all, it’s not about revenue, right?