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The First of July

Truckers beware. Many of you have already renewed your flat weight registration which expires at the stroke of midnight on July 1st. Others of you are looking at that pending bill and wondering how to pay for it. Flat weight registration for second division vehicles is not cheap, but it’s required by law to carry weight on trucks in Illinois. Starting Sunday July 1st, truck enforcement officers will be out en masse looking for flat weight plates on power units and trailers that do not have the orange 2013 sticker affixed to it. The Illinois Vehicle Code requires fines for this violation to be “appropriate”, and this article will discuss some enforcement pitfalls which surely are not appropriate.

Appropriate registration is defined as “the full annual cost of the required registration and its associated fees”. This language was added for 2012 to put a true statutory ceiling on any overweight on registration charge, but it is wholly applicable when a vehicle is discovered operating with expired registration or no registration at all.

On and after July 1st, if a police officer stops a second division truck or trailer without valid 2013 registration, the entire gross weight of the truck or combination should be weighed on a scale. The fine is calculated using the statutory cost of the license plate that covers the weight, plus the commercial distribution fee (CDF). This is “appropriate registration”.

For instance, a straight truck is stopped for an expired plate and on the scale it weighs 33,000 pounds. An Illinois “L” truck plate (36,000 lbs) is the appropriate plate to cover the weight of the truck. The statutory cost of the plate is $982. The CDF is $141. The appropriate fine is then $1123 plus any court costs and is required to be posted as a cash bail.

Over the last few years, the ITEA has learned of some shortcut “July 1st” enforcement techniques that are problematic, and hopefully this article will help end them.

APPROPRIATE BY GVWR The manufacturer’s suggested gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is nothing more than a maximum loaded weight that can safely be carried on the vehicle. While it is advisable to purchase enough registration to cover the GVWR, there is no requirement to do so. An owner can pay for as much or as little registration as he wishes…it’s a free country. Fines based solely on the cost of appropriate registration to cover the GVWR is wrong. The vehicle(s) must be weighed on a scale.

APPROPRIATE BY PRIOR YEARS REGISTRATION In 2012, a 6-wheeler had “Q” plates for 50,000 lbs to cover the empty weight of the truck plus any load. When a police officer stops the truck on July 1st, 2013, it may be empty, therefore weighing less than 50,000 lbs. The owner may very well intend to purchase “Q” plates for 2013, but it is improper to base the fine for appropriate registration off the intent of the owner and the prior years registration. The truck must be weighed and only the weight on the scale can be used as appropriate registration.

APPROPRIATE BY CHAPTER 15 It’s July 1st and a truck is stopped with expired plates. On the scale, the truck weighs 25,000 lbs. The officer then bases the fine on the overweight chart in Chapter 15 for being a true 25,000 pounds overweight instead of the appropriate “H” plate registration for 26,000. Or worse yet, he writes an additional overweight for gross ticket under 15-111A solely because the plates are expired. Both of these scenarios are without any legal basis.

July 1st is double trouble. The expired plate will cost you appropriate registration once for the ticket and a second time to purchase the actual registration. It’s not worth it.

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