Grace Weights

There’s not a truck cop in Illinois who has found a trucker over the legal weight limit and not heard the driver plead “but I get 2,000 pounds extra!”. The driver is correct…sometimes. A driver may receive and extra 2,000 pounds, or he may not. Truck law in Illinois is never that easy. This article will go thru the different categories of “grace weight” and what that means for the driver running heavy.

The term “grace” means you are given something you do not deserve (see our previous article Mercy Weights?). If a driver operates a vehicle overweight, he is in the wrong. The police officer is mandated by the law to require the driver to legalize the load. If the driver chooses not to, a citation can be issued.

The grace weights statutes were not written to extend legal weight. They were meant to acknowledge that load weights are not always a perfect science and sometimes mistakes happen. Think of it more as a guardrail. If a truck is heavier than the grace weight, it has plowed thru the guardrail and the driver is now plunging over the cliff to a fiery financial death. Staying in the grace weight is like smacking the guardrail…the truck is banged up but at least the driver is still alive.

No Grace Weight There is three times when no grace weight is afforded. If a vehicle or combination of vehicles has no valid registration at all, the weight is calculated from zero. Typically overweight on registration is allowed 2,000 pounds, but that’s only if there is valid registration.

Grace weights do not apply to weight violations for crossing a posted structure (625 ILCS 5/15-111C) as described in the Little Green “X” and Little Green “O” articles a few weeks ago. The grace weight provisions in Chapter 15 of the Illinois Vehicle Code only apply to gross and axle weight violations (625 ILCS 5/15-111A).

This means they do not apply to vehicles exceeding the weight limits of a valid overweight permit either (625 ILCS 5/15-111E). Word of advice to the heavy haulers who have not figured this out yet: it costs pennies more to add an extra two or three thousand pounds…permit for more weight than you need.

1,000 Pounds Sometimes a vehicle or combination of vehicles is only allowed 1,000 pounds. Here is one of the rare instances when Chapter 15 weight violations are predicated on a law from the registration Chapter (Chapter 3) in the IVC.

In the event a truck has a registered weight greater than 77,000 pounds, the vehicle only receives 1,000 pounds grace weight. That means an Illinois “Z” flat weight plate, or an apportioned, permanently mounted, or tow-truck plate where the weight designation is 77,001 pounds or more.

There are a few criterion for the 1,000 pounds grace weight though. First, it applies to gross weight violations only…not axle. Second, if the police officer is using portable wheel load weigher scales (not portable axle load), the officer cannot invoke the 1,000 pound rule.

2,000 Pounds Everything else receives a 2,000 pound grace weight. Axle weight? 2,000 pounds. Valid registration? 2,000 pounds. Anything weighed on wheel load weighers? 2,000 pounds. Federal Bridge Formula? 2,000 pounds.

Auxiliary Power Unit Oh wait though…its does not stop there. Vehicles equipped with a functioning auxiliary power unit (APU) receive an extra 400 pounds in addition to any other grace weight. Once the driver shows certification of the APU and the police officer confirms it is in working order, the driver now gets a 1,400 or 2,400 pound grace weight.

The APU grace weight was added to Illinois law in 2011 after a coalition consisting of the ITEA, Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, Secretary of State and Mid-west Truckers introduced a bill later signed by Governor Quinn. Thirty states have the 400 pound APU statute on their books, and another fifteen allow for it by policy. For once Illinois was not last in harmonization.

But guess what? Some states are now on the verge of increasing this weight from 400 to 550 pounds. New Hampshire has a pending bill to increase this grace weight to 800 pounds! Green technology keeps getting heavier.

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