When it comes to overweight violations in Illinois, the law builds in a tolerance to account for situations when it is impossible to have exact measurements on how much weight is being carried on the vehicle(s). Amongst truck cops, we commonly refer to these as “grace weights”. In most cases, this is 2000 pounds over legal weight. This extra weight cushions the driver or company from traffic fines that can be costlier than any other fines assessed by the police.
A study of the word “grace” yields this definition: giving something that is undeserved. Obviously if the law has been broken, then justice calls for a penalty. The “grace weight” gives something that is undeserved…protection from fines.
However, a study of the word “mercy” yields this definition: withholding something that is deserved. If the law has been broken, even if by a relatively small amount, shouldn’t there be a penalty? By having a weight tolerance, is the law not legislating mercy?
Many police officers and truck drivers misunderstand a provision of the “grace weights”. Even though a truck may be within the tolerance, it can still be cited for an overweight violation if the load is not legalized, which is required by statute (625 ILCS 5/15-112B). So either way, there is a penalty for breaking the law even if it is not in a cash fine. The tolerance applies to any axle, gross, or registered weight violation, but does not apply to overweight on a valid permit or crossing a posted structure (legal-weight or ton-load).
To the truck driver, be thankful for the grace weight tolerance built into the law when you receive it. And to the police officer, be sure to show the mercy weights when it is within your authority to do so.