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FMCSR Week 1: The Problem

Over the next several weeks, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association will embark on a journey to address an issue that has long been a divisive wedge between the Illinois State Police and local law enforcement, and between local law enforcement and the trucking industry.  What this series of articles is going to do is address the practice of local police in Illinois enforcing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, or FMCSR.  This practice has been debated ad-nauseam for many years, and hopefully thru these articles the issue can be settled once and for all.

It is understood that not all leadership in the Illinois law enforcement, particularly at the local level, will be in agreement with these articles.  That’s the rub with controversy…sometimes what needs to be said does not always have ears to be heard.  On the other end of the spectrum, these articles are not ringing a bell of enablement for the trucking industry to assume that local police cannot write any tickets for equipment and safety violations.

It would be easy for the ITEA to simply state our position in one article and move on, but the issue is far too contentious to do that.  Many good filmmakers have employed the method of showing the dramatic end to a story in the beginning of the movie, and then use the rest of the film to explain the backstory.  The position of the ITEA will be stated this week, and the future articles will go thru the process of explaining how and why the ITEA came to this position.  For ITEA members, there is a Standard of Practice (SOP-05) available on this topic.

As it pertains to local police enforcement of the FMCSR, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association:

  1. opposes any enforcement by non-Illinois State Police officers of the FMCSR.

  2. opposes any enforcement by local police officers which cites the FMCSR by reference to interpret the Illinois Vehicle Code.

  3. opposes the liberal use of 625 ILCS 5/12-101 (aka the “unsafe vehicle” section) as a catchall for FMCSR violations which do not exist in the IVC.

  4. adamantly rejects any teaching to the contrary.

The ITEA routinely receives calls and emails from members of both the trucking and law enforcement communities about local police officers attempting to do what is listed in the bullet points above.  When asked and confronted about the enforcement practices, the justifications are always the same…weak rationalizations to shoehorn the FMCSR into the IVC.  There is no argument that sometimes the law does not do an adequate enough job to give police officers all the answers, but that is not an platform to do what is objectively wrong.

The vast majority of local truck officers in Illinois work hard to do a legitimate job of enforcement.  These articles are going to give the benefit of the doubt to local truck officers dabbling in FMCSR enforcement that they are unaware of the problem.  The probability that they learned the practice from senior truck officers or a training instructor is high.  When something is as complex and voluminous as truck law, it is hard for even leaders to fully grasp it.

Local police do not have the authority.  Local police do not have the training.  Local police do not have the ability to uniformly report violations.  Local police cannot detain and search vehicles for violations of a code they cannot enforce. The first bundle of articles will explain all this in much greater detail.  The second bundle of articles will go into detail explaining equipment violation sections in the IVC which are similar to the FMCSR, and the proper method of enforcement by local police.

It’s going to be a wild ride…hang on.

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