It’s week three on the series about safety inspections. In week one, this blog looked at an illegal use of annual periodic inspections. Last week, the article focused on the complexity and difficulty in understanding the Illinois safety test law. This week, the article will look at the misunderstandings and enforcement methods of police officers when it comes to safety tests.
Bill the Trucker has surrendered. The law is the law. He may not like it, but after trying to unsuccessfully pose as an interstate carrier and getting nabbed by the police, he has decided to play ball with the Illinois Vehicle Code. If your vehicle needs to go under repairs to pass a safety inspection, then consider going to a paintless dent removal service.
Problem is, Bill the Trucker keeps getting different answers to the same questions when trying to interpret what the IVC says…and the different answers are coming from policemen (who are supposed to be enforcing the same law uniformly).
** Now for a shameful ITEA plug ** “Truck enforcement officers and truckers of Illinois – the safety test law is confusing. If you join the ITEA, we provide you with an authoritative, proprietary flowchart built under guidance and input from several regulatory state agencies.”
Bill the Trucker heard this call and joined the ITEA. He downloaded the Safety Test Flowchart © on his smartphone and studied up. The law was definitely clearer to him now, but several new questions came to mind…so he wrote the ITEA a letter to seek clarification:
Q: Before I tried to pull the annual periodic inspection scam, I faithfully went to safety lane. I got stopped by a police officer they called “Nero the Hero” on October 8th, who said my inspection sticker was expired. The sticker appeared to be good until the end of the month. However, the officer looked at the blue carbon copy which said the test was perform on April 5th, so my test was expired more than 6-months to the day. Is he correct? A: No Bill, he is incorrect. While his math is correct that more than 6 months to the day have passed, you have until the end of the calendar month on the sticker to renew. As a matter of fact, it actually says that on the sticker itself.
Q: I had a pickup truck with a D-plate. I was tired of taking it to safety lane, so I downgraded to a B-plate which does not need a safety test. Like a mojo, I left the expired sticker on the windshield and got a ticket, from Nero of course. I was not pulling a trailer. Am I guilty? A: No Bill, you are innocent. It probably would have been a good move to scrape that old sticker off and draw less police attention to yourself, but that does not mean you need a safety test. A B-plate is registered for 8,000 pounds exactly, not “more than” 8,000 pounds. No safety test required.
Q: The Hero stopped me one time for a legitimately expired safety test. Then he told me to follow him to the scale. So naturally, I asked why, seeing as how my truck was empty. He said that my vehicle registration was tied to my safety test…and if the safety test is expired, then my registration is void and I was overweight on registration. That rationale seemed awfully sketchy to me. A: If sketchy was art, then that line of thinking would be a Picasso. Your expired safety test has absolutely zero to do with the status of your registration.
Q: Nero told me that any trailer with a TD-plate or above needs a safety test. According to the flowchart, a trailer has to have an actual weight of more than 5,000 pounds. A: Again, incorrect. While it makes sense that a TD-plate on a trailer (good for 10,000 pounds) could weigh more than 5,000 pounds with a load, it does not mean a safety test is required. Nor does it matter what the manufacturers GVWR is. The only criterion to prove a safety test is needed for that trailer is by putting it on the scale.
Q: Apparently NTH (a heroic acronym), has influenced a lot of other police officers. One of his colleagues told me that I could even be arrested for the safety test violation! A: Unfortunately, that is true. Under 625 ILCS 5/13-111, a violation of a safety test is a Class-C misdemeanor. This means a maximum fine of $1500 and/or 30 days in jail. While this organization would encourage police officers to use good discretion before slapping on handcuffs or levying fines exponentially greater than the cost of a typical traffic ticket ($120), the law is on their side.
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