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It Doesn’t Pay to Disobey

We like to think police officers hold a higher value in society than traffic signs, but in reality they both share a common authority to regulate traffic. The human police officer is granted this authority in the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1-162). Traffic signs, officially called traffic control devices, also receive their authority to control traffic in the IVC (625 ILCS 5/1-154). Traffic control devices include signs, lane markings and signals as well. When it comes to truck enforcement, the two are vastly different.

Truckers are used to seeing regulatory signs to weigh. Whether it is a weigh station alongside the side of the interstate or a portable scale location, truckers know that when the signs are up, you have to weigh. It doesn’t take long for word to spread across the radio when the police have the scales open, and truckers will turn off to avoid the scales. Problem is they might bypass another traffic control device restricting commercial vehicles and find themselves in a totally different enforcement situation.

The question is what happens when a trucker drives past the regulatory sign to weigh? The answer is simple…he has disobeyed a traffic control device as stated in 625 ILCS 5/11-305(a). This is a moving violation and can have damaging effects on a CDL. But it’s just a moving violation. The assumption that there is a higher penalty or fine simply because trucks are involved is erroneous.

This situation is vastly different than when a police officer himself orders a truck to weigh. Police officers have the right to order a truck to the scales to weigh when they have reason to believe it is overweight. This could be overweight on axle, gross, registration, permit, or the federal bridge formula. Regardless of the officer’s suspicion, there is no right to refusal. The truck driver must weigh.

When a police officer orders a truck to weigh, the driver must comply regardless of the outcome. Once the driver refuses to weigh, the officer may cite the driver requiring him to post bail. Under Supreme Court Rule 526(b)(2), the driver must post a $1,200 cash bail. Not 10%…$1,200 cash. After bail has been posted, the statutory fine can be no less than $500 and no more than $2,000. That’s a hefty penalty.

Even if the driver refuses, that does not mean the truck is not going to get weighed…the police officer has options. Maybe he or another employee with a CDL can drive the truck onto the scale. Maybe the officer makes a call to his friendly police towing agency and has the truck towed onto the scale. Escalating a situation in an effort to call a police officer’s bluff is one of the worst mistakes anyone can make. The law and resources to guarantee compliance are on the side of the officer.

Either way, if the truck turns out to be overweight, there is most likely going to be an additional overweight citation with an additional fine requiring an additional bail. If it turns out to be legal weight, the driver still has the problem with ticket for failure to yield. For all members of the ITEA (truckers, police officers, and attorneys), we have a Standard of Practice (SOP-37) to address this issue.

It simply is not worth it. Pull over and weigh.

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