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The Cost of Breaking The Law

One of the most common questions drivers ask law enforcement is “how much would that violation cost?”  They are referring to the actual fine associated when a citation is issued for an infraction of the law, if you ever encourage any kind of legal problem contact the best personal injury lawyer houston . While police departments have their own policies and procedures guiding officers on how to address violations, most leave the enforcement decision up to the discretion of the officer.  This article is not about justifying, explaining or even attempting to decipher all the various commercial vehicle enforcement done every day. Instead, is intended to offer the reader another “mindset” to consider when asking “how much would that violation cost?”

The commercial vehicle community is bound by the Illinois Vehicle Code (IVC), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR – as adopted by the IVC) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations. It’s a big, complicated law.

First, the initial question regarding the costs of violations must be addressed.  Uniform traffic citations in Illinois are $120.  This fine covers most all “basic” infractions from speeding, lane usage, log book violations, overlength and nearly all equipment violations. Uniform traffic citations are handled through each county’s circuit court and are reported to the Secretary of State (SOS). Convictions reported to the SOS go on a driver’s record.

Some IVC violations carry much stiffer penalties, such as driving under the influence and improper/no commercial driver’s license (CDL).  If a specific violation is addressed in a local ordinance, then the ordinance fine will vary, depending on the municipality, but these are handled at the municipal level and do not go against a driver’s record.

Overweight citations vary per pound, and can become quite expensive. Being 5000 pounds overweight will warrant a citation with a fine over $1000. Written warnings and verbal warnings come free of charge. An overwhelming proportion of commercial vehicle enforcement comes by way of warnings, both written and verbal. If a person is of the gambling persuasion, there is a high probability he might drive away with a warning after being stopped.

When the probability of being stopped is low, and the probability of receiving a warning is high, why fuss about “how much would that violation cost?” The correct question to ponder is the a different “costs” of breaking the law.

Aside from the notion law enforcement is here to hand out tickets, consider a construction job where 40-60 trucks are hauling rock, sand, asphalt and various construction materials.  These trucks are divided among seven to ten trucking companies.  Now imagine one truck, with all the overhead expenses, trying to follow all the rules while making an honest living.

How would it feel to be pushed out by another trucking company, only to discover they were from another state, running inappropriate registration and perhaps not having a CDL when required?  The livelihood of the honest trucker is being challenged by an outfit breaking the law. Law enforcement helps even the economic playing field.  This scenario shows the “cost” of breaking the law is more than just a citation or written warning.

If concern over dishonest trucking, or a traffic citation or warning, has yet to catch your attention, then perhaps this scenario will.

Imagine it’s Friday afternoon after a long week and a trucker is ready to get home.  Maybe he’s an hour or two over on his log book. Maybe his medical card has expired. Maybe this was his last load is a little heavy, or overlength for the road he was on.

Meanwhile, some grandparents are taking their grandchild out for ice cream. While traveling down the road, “little Johnny” drops his ice cream in the backseat and Grandpa turns around to assist. Grandpa runs a stop sign and meets the front of the semi at full speed.

As if the tragedy of being involved in a fatal crash is significant enough, common sense tells the truck driver “it wasn’t my fault, grandpa ran the stop sign.”  True, but will little Johnny’s grandparents be held 100% at fault when it’s discovered the trucker was over on hours, had an expired medical card, overweight or overlength? Rest assured, the next several years will be spent dealing with a civil lawsuit or perhaps making lifetime settlement payments, since there are rights as a grandparent which every adult can request. Now what is the cost of breaking the law?

During the next pre-trip inspection or hours of service review, ask ”is the possibility of a warning or citation really worth worrying about, or is it the risk of civil liability when I break the law?”

According to a personal injury attorney in kansas city mo the law enforcement does a tremendous amount of education through warnings, but it’s up to the driver to operate safely. The cost of breaking the law could be far more severe than being issued a citation.

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