FMCSR Week 6: Shoehorning


Future articles in this series will specifically address laws in the FMCSR that parallel or are similar to laws in the IVC, such as braking, tires, and some load securement issues.  However, there are many other violations in the FMCSR which have no equivalent or parallel to the IVC.  The question routinely posed to the ITEA is this:  “if I am a local police officer and I see a violation to which the IVC does not have an equivalent, how am I to enforce it?”  The answer is simple…you don’t.  You call the Illinois State Police.

The mistake happens because faulty instruction teaches police officers they can shoehorn violations exclusive to the FMCSR into a “catch-all” section of the IVC….therefore they can avoid “directly citing the FMCSR” by using a state statute.  For example, a local police officer stops a truck for an expired plate.  While approaching the driver, the officer notices three broken leaf springs on the drive axles.  This is a critical violation of the FMCSR, and an Illinois State Police trooper would place this vehicle out-of-service. There is nothing in the IVC that even closely resembles faulty suspension systems, however police officers have been lead down a path that this can be enforced under  625 ILCS 5/12-101(a).

This section deserves a closer study and has been broken down into three phases:

Phase 1:  “It is unlawful for any person to drive or move or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved on any highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property…” This phrase is without any objective standards, which unfortunately leads to a practice of police officers creating their own.  The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has set standards to prove what safe and what is not for commercial vehicle, but local police in Illinois are not CVSA certified.

Phase 2: “…or which does not contain those parts or is not at all equipped with such lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment…” This is the hook on which the shoehorn hat is hung.  There is no doubt a broken leaf spring is not in “proper condition”.  The problem is those that wish to shoehorn FMCSR violations fail to continue reading…

Phase 3:  “…as required in this Chapter 12, or which is equipped in any manner in violation of this Code, or for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required under this Chapter 12.” Could this phase be any clearer?  The first two phrases of this section outline the subject problem, but they are entirely dependent on the third phrase which specifically states the equipment violation must be listed in “Chapter 12” (twice), and “in violation of this Code”, meaning the IVC.  Not the Federal Code, not any other IVC Chapter, but Chapter 12 of the IVC.  That’s it.

Look at this statute another way.  There is no language making it exclusive to Commercial Motor Vehicles.  The truth is this law pertains to all vehicles…cars, trucks, and trailers.  Just as there are federal regulations that pertain to CMV’s, there are volumes of federal regulations that pertain to cars as well.  Imagine a local police officer stopping a car for speeding, and then performing a inspection of the car to see if meets federal safety standards for airbags, hood latches, emission control, or fuel consumption…and then writing a citation under 625 ILCS 5/12-101(a).  It’s unthinkable.

Chapter 12 of the IVC has absolutely zero regulation of log books, defective suspension or frames, steering, wheel rims, or coupling devices.  Wheels are only referenced in the IVC as modifiers for brake and tire statutes.  Load securement gets a few short and highly vague paragraphs in Chapter 15, not Chapter 12.  None of these FMCSR exclusive violations can be shoehorned into 625 ILCS 5/12-101(a).  It is crystal clear…and any training to the contrary is wrong.



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