At the end of their shift on April 1st, ask any truck enforcement officer in Illinois the most common line heard from truck drivers throughout the day. Chances are most, if not all, will answer with the same redundant phrase: “It’s only one day.” One day is the amount of time that has lapsed between when the Illinois apportioned plate displayed on the driver’s truck went from valid to expired.
This is an indisputable fact many drivers will attempt to use in mitigation of the offense. In some cases it may only be a matter of hours or even minutes. Nonetheless, those caught without valid registration will be staring down the barrel of some hefty fines regardless of the amount of time from when the used to have valid registration.
Every April 1st the sun rises and truck enforcement officers across the state take to the streets with a primary focus on expired Illinois apportioned plates. Subsequently, ever year, these same officers come across thousands of violations and issue hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Whether you agree or disagree with the enforcement tactics or lack of a grace period, there is nothing you can do to escape the realities of April 1st. What can be done, however, is to take some extra steps to prevent your trucks and drivers from finding themselves stopped on the side of the road or at the scale instead of their planned destination.
Renew Your Registration It may seem like common sense, but the reality is that many times those in charge of registration simply forget to renew it. Unlike regular Illinois passenger vehicle plates, Illinois apportioned plates all expire at the same time every year. Knowing this, you should give yourself ample time to complete the proper documentation and submit it to the Secretary of State Division of Commercial Farm and Truck.
Please realize that this is one of the busiest times of year for the Secretary of State, and they too need time to process the paperwork. Getting your paperwork to the SOS on time is only one part of the battle, the more important part is the processing and validation of your truck’s registration.
Simply having the paperwork saying you submitted your registration documentation is not enough to avoid being cited for no registration. Until the SOS has given your truck its blessing to be on the road (in the form of valid registration) you are rolling the dice by operating.
Carry Your CAB Card Having your CAB card inside of the vehicle and ready to be displayed upon the request of law enforcement is not only a good idea, it is required by law. Having this documentation with you is as good as gold if you are stopped by the police. Even if your apportioned plates come back in the system as expired or “No Record” there is information listed on the CAB card which law enforcement can confirm through a simple call to the SOS.
Display Your 45-day Permit For those who are either new applicants to the Full Reciprocity Plan (FRP) or who have otherwise obtained a 45-day Registration Permit, display it in the front windshield of your vehicle. In addition to this, have an extra copy available for law enforcement to review.
Having to peel one copy of the permit from the windshield is not only time consuming, it may end in that document being inadvertently torn or damaged. Understand simply displaying the permit in the window will not necessarily prevent an officer from stopping you for further investigation of the document. It is impossible for any officer to know what that 8×10 piece of paper says without seeing it up close. In most counties across Illinois, States Attorneys have supported the investigatory stop of a truck for purposes of checking registration permits displayed in this manner.
Owners, Keep Your Driver Informed An informed driver who has been educated on the appropriate documentation needed is a driver who will most likely leave a traffic stop without a citation. Set your drivers up for success by giving them organized paperwork and ensure that they know what the paperwork is for.
If you recently switched from Illinois apportioned plates to another jurisdiction in the FRP, make sure your drivers are aware and have the documentation to back it up. You and your drivers know more about the vehicle being operated than the officers who are investigating a possible violation.
The officer will be able to obtain as much information as they feel necessary to either release the truck or cite it. You can absolutely help speed the process along by carrying the proper documents and being able to articulate the status of your registration. While the above tips will not necessarily prevent the issuance of a citation, they are good practice and more likely to result in a favorable outcome if followed. Remember, “It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”
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