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Wives’ Tales & Rumors

In a world where speed and convenience supersedes a person’s desire to ascertain facts through proper outlets, misinformation runs rampant. What is often forgotten is even before Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media, information was still very often misrepresented and sometimes flat out incorrect. One of the oldest forms of spreading incorrect information is through “wives’ tales.” When it comes to the world of commercial vehicle enforcement, the topic of truck registration requirements is packed with wives’ tales. The source of the rumors regarding truck registration may never be found, but the record will be set straight in this article.

Remember when mom said making a funny face may get stuck that way? This little lie was her way of scaring kids to not making funny faces for fear of looking incredibly strange for the rest of their life. Children know that probably wasn’t the case, but who were they to question what their own mother stated as fact? More importantly, it wasn’t worth the risk if mom was right.

Kids grow into adults, but still must deal with forms of wives’ tales in their professions.

Registration of commercial vehicles is spelled out in chapter three of the Illinois Vehicle Code. Essentially, registration is a tax which is paid to operate a vehicle on the roadways of this state. Simply put, when it comes to commercial vehicles, the more one pays, the more he can weigh.

Flat weight plates in Illinois start at 8,000 pounds and can cover up to 80,000 pounds, with the respective fees ranging from $101 up to $3191 per year. Those in the carrier industry are familiar with these fees and pay them annually as the cost of doing business.

While this concept seems easy enough, there have been numerous instances when improper enforcement actions have been taken due to incorrect information being disseminated. Below are a few of the truck registration wives’ tales which circulate through both the trucking industry and law enforcement:

Registered weight cannot exceed the GVWR of a vehicle This is the most common misconception heard around the commercial vehicle enforcement community. The fact is a vehicle can be registered for any weight the owner wishes. For example, the owner of a ½ ton Chevy Silverado could register his truck for 80,000 pounds if he desired to do so. The Illinois Secretary of State will gladly accept the payment for “over-plating” the truck. There is no law on the books which prevents someone from “over-plating.”

It is, however, important to understand that a two axle pickup truck plated with 80,000 pounds registration will not actually be able to carry that much weight. Remember that the gross weight of a vehicle is determined by the Federal Bridge Formula, and is completely independent from registration weights. Again, registration is just a tax to carry weight on the road, not a permit to exceed legal weights.

Not displaying a steel plate makes a vehicle overweight While operating a commercial vehicle without displaying a proper license plate is a sure-fire way to gain the attention of any truck enforcement officer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle is overweight. If a truck is found to be operating without a plate affixed to it, but registration can be confirmed through the Secretary of State, it is not overweight on its registration. While citations may be issued for improper display of registration, if the proper fees have been paid, the display of the plate is irrelevant to determining an overweight violation.

Not displaying IFTA/safety test/registration sticker makes the vehicle overweight Again, none of these violations have anything to do with the weight (registration/gross/axle) of a commercial vehicle. While citations will most likely be issued for any of the above offenses, registered weight is determined only by the fees paid to the Secretary of State. If the vehicle is displaying an expired registration sticker, but the plates are returning as valid in the Secretary of State’s database, there is no registration overweight violation.

Having an improper license classification makes the vehicle overweight Proper licensing of commercial vehicle operators is essential to the overall safety of all motorists on our roadways. Operating a vehicle which requires a Commercial Driver’s License while not properly licensed is a Class-A misdemeanor in the State of Illinois. This means the driver can be arrested and the vehicle towed from the scene. A Class-A misdemeanor carries fines up to $2,500.00 and one-year in jail. These violations are very serious and will not be taken lightly by the courts. With that being said, driver’s license class/status and vehicle registration are mutually exclusive and have no bearing on one another.

The list of these tales is almost endless. About when the ITEA believes all rumors have been quashed, another ridiculous story comes along. The best way to combat these nonsensical anecdotes is to keep educated.

Police officers: attend the ITEA 40-hour Basic Truck Enforcement Officer class and continue your education every year by attending the certification courses.

Truckers: you may contact the ITEA and ask for a certified ITEA instructor to speak with your drivers. Remember  some rumors and wives’ tales may seem logical, but it’s best to seek the advice of experts if ever in question. After all, who still waits an hour after eating to swim?

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