Later this week the ITEA will be posting a resolution regarding the use of a manufacturers Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) to enforce overweight on registration violations. It is unfortunate this needs to happen, but it is necessary. The ITEA routinely receives calls and emails from the trucking industry, police officers, and attorneys regarding all kinds of questions. It seems that majority of questions and confusion revolve around issues that fall under the regulatory authority of the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS) such as CDL’s and registration.
There is no doubt the Illinois Vehicle Code does little to help sort out the nuances of CDL and registration issues. The Administrative Code attempts to provide more clarity, but many of the rules are out of date. Given the complexities of these topics, it is not surprising police officers make mistakes in their interpretation of SOS issues. The ITEA has written several Standards of Practice and developed resource documents for its members in an effort to prevent errors. However, it seems this one topic, regardless of the amount of information and training provided, continues to rear its ugly head.
When manufacturers produce a new vehicle, they are required under federal law to suggest a maximum loaded weight for the entire vehicle and for its axles. This is a safety precaution for the consumer. The critical systems of the vehicle (steering, brakes, suspension, frame, tires, etc) can only take so much and will eventually fail if too much is piled on top. Also required by law is registration. In Illinois, an owner of a second division vehicle must purchase registered weight. It is the sovereign right of the owner to purchase whatever amount of weight he wants. Purchase too much weight and he is wasting money…purchase too little weight, and he risks an overweight ticket. Regardless, it is his prerogative to buy what he wants.
The circumstances initiating the resolution is when police officers cite trucks for not having enough registration to cover the GVWR, even if the actual weight (on the scale) is below the registered weight. The trucker then goes to the SOS to increase the registered weight and is told this is not needed, in stark contradiction to the police officer. This practice is wholly incorrect and it is unknown where it originated.
The goal of the resolution is not to accuse police officers of doing this intentionally in an effort to rack up stats and/or revenue, but to end the practice all together. It is wrong. It undermines the credibility of law enforcement. It creates problems for the SOS and its staff. It unfairly fines truckers for a non-existent violation. It will eventually lead to knee-jerk legislation to limit the enforcement powers of the police.
The State of Illinois empowers certain agencies with regulatory authority. Police officers may not understand their methods or even agree with them, but it is their job to respect and honor those methods. If the police officer has concerns it needs to be addressed though proper channels…not improper enforcement action.