The Death of the Weekly Blog

In November 2011, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association launched the first installment of weekly blog posts. This first article was titled “Dirty Lyle” and it set the tone for the next six years of blog posts: police officers and truckers must work together to keep Illinois safe and make trucking profitable. Now, after more than 220,000 words in 318 articles, the weekly blog is coming to an end on this last day of 2017. But don’t think for a second the ITEA is driving off the shoulder of the information superhighway…quite to the contrary. Read on to find out what is in store for the faithful readers in 2018.

First a little housekeeping. The blog, technically speaking, is not going anywhere. Every article will remain live and on the web for the eternity of this organization. These posts represent the lifeblood of the ITEA and will survive for reference, historical perspective and a good laugh.

In its place, the ITEA will begin marketing a monthly newsletter via email in January 2018. Each newsletter will contain smaller, condensed articles of news in the truck enforcement world. This will allow the ITEA to promote more content, in less space, than a weekly blog post. If you get the weekly email, you will automatically receive the monthly newsletter.

To speak technically again, the blog is not 100% dead either. There will be times when events impacting law enforcement or the trucking industry will need an extended article. It could be a new piece of legislation, a training event or a thorn needing to be pulled. It those times, the blog as you have known it may be resurrected for a specific purpose.

It’s been a good run! Through this blog and it’s many contributing authors, a ton of ground has been covered. Complex laws have been explained. Educational opportunities have been promoted. Misunderstandings have been straightened out. Precedents have been set.

The blog has not survived without its own controversies however. Rogue enforcement practices, incorrect teaching methodologies and general anti-police or anti-trucking sentiments have been exposed and extinguished.

Through a few adversarial blog posts, the ITEA lost some friends and made some enemies. It happens. Nobody said truth is an easy pill to swallow. The goal of the ITEA, using electronic communication mediums, has been to provide the facts no matter how much it hurts.

The ITEA will not focus on those the blog has alienated. Olive branches were always offered and refused. So be it. This organization will continue to fight the good fight and promote the positive results from professionally speaking truth.

Articles appearing on this blog have been reproduced in local, regional and national publications of various partner organizations. Law enforcement periodicals, trucking magazines and other governmental groups have duplicated the content in their own rags.

The best encouragement the ITEA has received is the never-ending appreciation from those readers from all different occupations. Every event ITEA leaders attend, anywhere in the nation, yields compliments from the thousands of readers who have found these articles in their inbox every Sunday morning. Not all articles apply to everyone, but each reader has found something beneficial from one post or another.

The ITEA would like to thank all the sponsors who have financially underwritten the cost of the blog each week. Mid-west Truckers Association, the Connolly Law Office, The Mulch Center, Advanced Weighing Systems, and Oxcart Permit Systems – thank you for making this happen. Your partnership with the ITEA has been nothing short of awesome.

See you in a few weeks! Until then, keep the bugs off your glass and the bears off your…tail?

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What is the Measure of Your Success?

No matter what the occupation, there are procedures for the operation. Where there are procedures, there are always holes in the application of the job. No procedure can rightly legislate every possible scenario. Where there are holes in the application, there are interpretations on how best to complete the job. When there are interpretations, there is conflict and differences of opinion. When it comes to measuring axle spacings on trucks for enforcement purposes, the appropriate tools for measurement is one of these giant holes of interpretation.

A repetitive theme during the six years of this blog is investigating the difference between fact and fiction. Given the sheer volume of truck laws, the opportunity for procedural holes is great.

Recently, a police officer member of the ITEA posted a question in the members-only discussion forum about which devices are lawful for measuring the distance between axles. He had been told the law only allows the use of a steel tape. A fair question, one that has been asked of the ITEA many, many times.

Here is the lie: the law (both statutory and judicial case law) says a police officer can only use a steel tape to measure between axles.

Here is the truth: the law says nothing about what a police officer must use to measure between axles. Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Here is the application: there are several devices available for truck officers to use, each with their own pros and cons.

Steel Tape Measure

The law does not require a police officer to use this.

Pro – steel tapes will not stretch out over time.

Con – they rust. Sometimes it is snowy and raining in Illinois, and using a steel tape will ruin the device. A second con is it requires another person to hold one end. Truck officers are notorious for being independent workers, and there usually is not a second police officer around to assist. Having the trucker hold one end of the tape isn’t necessarily advisable either.

Cloth Tape Measure

The law does not require a police officer to use this.

Pro – they are lightweight and roll up easy.

Con – they do not respond well to moisture and will stretch out over time. Also, they require a second person to help like their steel cousin.

Walking Wheel

The law does not require a police officer to use this.

Pro – allows a police officer to work independently. The device is more resistant to weather.

Con – they need to be checked regularly for accuracy. Also, police officers need to make sure they are walking straight, and the wheel is not adding inches by skipping over road debris.

Lasers

The law does not require a police officer to use this.

Pro – if a police officer can come up with an affordable and practical way to make this technology work for truck enforcement, he’s a Jedi.

Con – probably is going to cost a lot of money.

Because statutory law and case law are both silent to what devices are required for police officers to use when measuring, a police officer is not wrong for using any of them. The police officer is only wrong when he knows he is using a device improperly, or in such a way that would unfairly lend to the favor of enforcement.

This is an integrity issue. Any competent defense attorney can surely pick apart the unreasonable use of one device, but at the end of the day the officer needs to measure with something. The ethical truck officer knows the rights and wrongs and chooses the appropriate tool for the job.

It’s the job of the defense to defeat the credibility of a police officer. This is an extremely high standard, one which cannot be simply reached by throwing a random “improper measuring device” dart in the dark.

Whether the police officer is measuring between axles to enforce legal weights under the Federal Bridge Formula, or measuring axle spacings for compliance with an overweight permit, the fines can be extraordinary. Just like unequal scales are an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, trumped up measurements are too.

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We Are All In This Together

At any major event people are seen wearing different hats while working together to accomplish the same goal. At sporting events, there are tickets takers, ushers, vendors and security all working in harmony to ensure the spectators have a fun experience. When a catastrophe hits, people come together from police and fire departments, and federal agencies all to keep citizens safe and begin the process of cleanup and rebuilding. In the world of truck enforcement, there are many organizations working together to keep the roads safe and the American economy rolling. So how do these people from different agencies work together?

At highest level is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA establishes the rules and regulations which affect trucks crossing state lines. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) are thorough and can be daunting. This is why the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the Illinois Trucking Association, Illinois Farm Bureau and the Midwest Trucker’s Association work to provide their members information they need to stay legal and safe.

On the flipside of the regulatory coin is the Illinois State Police (ISP). In Illinois, ISP is the only agency allowed to enforce the FMCSR. These troopers are specially trained to inspect trucks and check logbooks among other things. No other organization in Illinois has this authority. When a local officer stops a truck, and see things he feels may not be safe, his course of action should be to reach out to his state police district and ask for help.

Over the years, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has worked hard to build a great working relationship with the Illinois State Police. Many troopers support what the ITEA is trying to accomplish. The ITEA’s ability to educate the carrier industry on state law, as well as using ISP as a resource in federal regulation education, has been noticed throughout the industry.

This past year, the ITEA annual conference was held with many representatives of the trucking industry in attendance. Some of the best feedback received reflected how well ISP presented relevant information. One of the big questions from a trucking company is about inspections and the willingness of ISP to present directly to the trucking industry. Their willingness to be available and to answer their questions proved meaningful.

As the ITEA grows, building relationships with agencies and organizations who believe in the same mission, will continue. This mission is to provide high quality information to the trucking industry so they can operate in a safe and legal manner as well as teach law enforcement the ethical way to enforce laws.

As you look at roads in Illinois, notice one thing: all state routes lead to a local road. Truck drivers, local police officers and state troopers are all working together to keep these roads safe. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association will continue to collaborate with any agency whose goal is to keep America growing.

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Trucks are not Bicycles

Back in 1892, British songwriter Harry Dacre penned a little jingle about he and a woman named “Daisy” riding on a bicycle built for two, more commonly known as “tandem”. Ever seen a pair of horses pulling a trailer? Yep – a tandem. In truck world, a pair of axles is sometimes called a tandem, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes a tandem is more than two axles. Either way, in the vast world of truck terminology misunderstandings, the tandem is not forgotten. This article will clarify the ongoing schism about tandems.

First, understand there are two kinds of tandems. The legal definition in the Illinois Vehicle Code, and the street version. The reader may use the term tandem to describe whatever he wants, but that does not mean he is statutorily correct.

In Illinois law, a tandem is two or more consecutive axles, with a minimum spacing on center of 40” and a maximum spacing of 96”. This can be found in 625 ILCS 5/1-204.3. Its plainly obvious in this definition that a tandem is not limited to only two axles.

If a vehicle manufacturer can cram three or more physical axles into the 40” to 96” window, all those axles are considered one tandem. In the weight laws of Illinois, this group of more than two axles will receive a maximum 34,000 pounds of weight (barring any special exceptions).

If two axles are so close together they do not have a minimum 40” between the two of them, they are not a legal tandem. Even though there are two physical axles (making it a tandem by the street definition), the maximum weight for the two axles is measured as a single axle, or 20,000 pounds. This is common on small landscaping trailers.

If two consecutive axles have more than 96” between them, they may very well be a street definition tandem, but again, they are not a legal tandem. They are instead two single axles, each receiving a maximum 20,000 pounds individually. Depending on their spacing, they may receive anywhere from 38,000 to 40,000 pounds under the Federal Bridge Formula.

Where the real confusion about tandems comes into play is on overweight permits issued by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and other local agencies.

For instance, a 9-axle mobile crane which weighs 187,000 pounds gross weight obtains a permit from IDOT and some local agencies. On the vehicle, there may very well be several sets of two consecutive axles with a spacing of 40”-96”.

The confusion comes in because the permit may list a tandem, but on the scale, these tandems have weights greatly in excess of 34,000. What the term tandem really means is a “group of axles”. This same 9-axle crane may have a group of two axles, then a group of four axles, then a group of three axles. On the permit, it may list each group as the first tandem, second tandem and third tandem.

Unfortunately, many enforcement agents have applied the legal tandem definition (and weight of 34,000 pounds) to these groups of axles and issued very costly overweight citations. This is erroneous for two reasons.

First, this display of the word tandem is an alternate version, not the legal version. Second, because it is overweight, the legal definition is a moot point anyhow. The permit authority has issued a higher weight for this group, and enforcement must honor those weights.

Words matter, and keen discernment recognizing the differences between legal definitions and street definitions is paramount to truck enforcement efforts. Police officers and truckers alike must be clear and detailed when explaining these situations to guarantee correct interpretations are applied. Loose and uneducated interpretations wrongly cost people a whole lot of time and money.

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Strap In and Haul Out

The federal government has spent billions of dollars over the past decade preaching the importance of a common sense task, required by law, for all drivers, in every type of vehicle, in all 50 states. All this money has been spent to reinforce the idea drivers should buckle their seat belts before traveling on the roadway. Local, state and federal government have spent countless hours enforcing occupant protection enforcement and education. One would think this task would happen naturally as a method of self-preservation, yet there are many who refuse to comply with this simple, statutory requirement, including truck drivers.

Over the years, much progress has been made encouraging motorists to comply with seat belt laws. The daytime seat belt usage rate has risen from 70.7% in 2000 to 90.1% in 2016, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) resources. These numbers represent a significant increase in compliance over a 16-year period.

The numbers seem encouraging on face value, but the same statistics scream 1 out of 10 people traveling in vehicles are not securing their seat belts. These statistics only represent those traveling in passenger vehicles.

When one begins to look at the compliance rate of the trucking demographic likely reading this blog, the rate quickly drops from 90.1% to 84.9%. In other terms, there is a 5% drop off in seat belt compliance from passenger vehicles to commercial vehicles traveling on US roadways. What this statistic says is professionals who operate heavy vehicles are significantly less likely to buckle up to save their lives and those in smaller, more maneuverable vehicles.

As further proof of the lack of compliance, driver safety belt violations were the fifth most common violation cited by officers conducting federal safety regulation inspections in 2016. Almost 60,000 violations were documented by officers. While this number itself is extremely high, it still doesn’t even include those cited by other law enforcement officers not conducting federal inspections.

Those in law enforcement have heard every excuse in the book from violators of safety belt laws. Some of those excuses are more reasonable than others, but almost none are a statutory exemption to safety belt requirements.

Drivers of commercial vehicles offer some of the more compelling arguments law enforcement will hear. Many have argued the belt is uncomfortable to wear for long periods while traveling over bumpy roads. Others have contended since their vehicle is bigger, they are less likely to be injured in a crash.

The fact remains that even commercial vehicles are bigger than others on the road, unrestrained drivers can still be seriously injured in a crash. Further, commercial vehicles are more likely to be involved in a roll-over situation than a passenger vehicle. In these cases, the size of the vehicle is not going to protect the driver from being injured, as the larger passenger compartment and its contents will serve as a potential centrifuge of injury or death.

If the risk of injury or death isn’t enough to encourage commercial vehicle operators to buckle up, perhaps the possibility of law enforcement intervention will serve as a deterrent. While it has been reported that only about 2% of law enforcement officers are likely to stop commercial vehicles, the chance of being stopped by the police increases exponentially when one chooses to disobey a law to which every patrol officer.

Many officers are not trained in the finer aspects of commercial vehicle enforcement, which many commercial vehicle operators rightfully worry about. Violations of size, weight, CDL or federal regulations are not often possessed in the average patrol officer’s repertoire. Seat belt violations, however, are something that every officer knows is illegal. Why draw attention police attention over such a futile disregard of the law?

Law enforcement nationwide has gone “all in” on the campaign to encourage motorists to “Click it or Ticket” and they will not back down from the crusade until there are zero fatalities. It takes everyone working together to make the roadways a safer place as the holidays approach. Secure safety belts and drive safely on the roads.

From all of us at the ITEA, have a happy and safe holiday season and remember to buckle up!

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All Fowled Up

The trucking industry is infatuated with the poultry industry. Ever seen a left lane chicken train speed past you? Ever said “cluck cluck chicken truck” when there’s a rooster cruiser feathered in chicken lights nearby? Even police officers get winged at weigh stations, or “chicken coops”. As the nation rounds out the Thanksgiving weekend, it’s apparent the turkey has been left out of the bucket of chicken…except, in Illinois.

Only in Illinois can legislation be introduced which is so bizarre it leaves a person hungry to read more. There, between the stuffing and cranberry sauce of pay-to-play bills in the 100th General Assembly, is draft legislation giving turkeys more “rights” under the law.

Apparently, turkey farms (like Big Jim’s Turkeys & Dumplings) in Illinois have been suffering financial losses each year. As people have begun to celebrate “Friendsgiving” at other moments during the year, this has hurt the November turkey market.

Also, other holiday dishes (such as the Turducken) have inspired Illinoisans to share the poultry market with duck, chicken and other assorted birds. What was once a monopoly for the turkey farms has slowly been eroded to a point of financial crisis.

To add insult to injury, cash-strapped Cook County is attempting to plug their never-ceasing and expanding $200 billion budget hole with the “Turkey Tax”. Of course it’s killing sales, except at grocery stores along the collar county borders. Even though Cook County has waged an expensive battle claiming the health risks of tryptophan, the napping public is well aware this is only an attempt to gather more gravy.

The turkey farmers like Big Jim are outraged, and rightfully so. Their product has been the wishbone of Illinois meals for decades. Shifting preferences and greedy local politicians should not be able to diminish their profits. This is not what the Pilgrims imagined at that historic first dinner with the natives.

In response, the incredibly powerful turkey lobby in Springfield has introduced SB6253 which is designed to help revitalize the turkey market. Here is a synopsis:

1.   The Governor, at anytime, may declare an emergency turkey harvest, exempting farmers from all size and weight laws on state highways. Locals may follow suit, but are not required.

2.   Outside of an emergency declaration, IDOT and local authorities are required to issue free-range permits for oversize/overweight turkey trucks, as turkeys are now considered non-divisible loads.

3.   The Commercial Distribution Fee is waived for all trucks owned, leased or brokered by turkey farmers.

4.   Cook County, and any other unit of home rule government, are prohibited from introducing taxes specifically aimed at the turkey industry.

5.   The turkey will replace the Northern Cardinal as the Illinois state bird, and the governor annually will issue a proclamation as such.

6.   The Apple iOS and Google Droid mobile platforms operating within Illinois are required to promote turkey emojis and disable other poultry graphics during the month of November.

7.   Local fire departments are prohibited from disseminating literature, whether in written or electronic form, exposing the dangers of turkey fryers.

8. Elementary school teachers are required to have each child create hand-turkeys or risk cuts to their State funding.

While these regulations may seem like legislators are talking tough, rest assured they are probably only talking turkey. There’s really no other way to carve it up.

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Across State Lines

America is a free market. A customer in one state can hire a company from another to complete a job, or deliver cargo. As a result, trucks must be allowed to operate between states with no interruption. So what happens when a company needs to enter Illinois with their trucks and equipment? How does Illinois handle vehicles with foreign registration?

As far back as 1968, the United States along with Canada have been utilizing the International Registration Plan for commercial motor vehicles to cross state lines and move goods freely. The plan allows a means for government to be paid their portion of registration fees for all commercial vehicles using their roads.

The system works well to ensure registration fees are paid and only have to use one license plate. This eliminated vehicles having to independently register in multiples states and the confusion it created. As an 18-wheeler moves from California to New York, they record the miles in each state and a portion of their registration fees is distributed back.

It’s easy for a large truck which regularly crosses state lines to know they need apportioned plates. But what about smaller trucks which may not cross state lines often? The rules to determine when a vehicle must pay registration fees to the state it is operating is as follows:

1)   The vehicle or combination of vehicles has an actual weight (on the scale) of 26,001 pounds or more, or

2)   The vehicle has three or more axles on the power unit, or

3)   The vehicle is making an intrastate movement

The first is easy. If the driver from a Wisconsin company goes across a scale and it reads more than twenty-six thousand pounds, fees must be paid to Illinois. This actual weight reflects the total combination of the truck and trailer.

If a driver is operating a semi-truck, with three axles on the power unit, he cannot enter another state without first obtaining the proper apportioned registration, or a permit to operate in that state. Illinois offers 72-hour trip permits for commercial vehicles from other states to enter Illinois, do their business and exit. When it comes to farmers from another state, the rules are a little different.

Farmers from other states may cross into Illinois and be treated just like they have plates from Illinois. But this only applies if they are hauling an agriculture commodity to a point of first processing and then leaving the state. In other words, the move must be interstate not intrastate.

The final rule is the intrastate move. This can be the most complicated of the three as it could apply to almost any foreign vehicle doing business in Illinois. For example, a pickup truck towing a trailer loaded with a motorcycle crosses into Illinois bearing Wisconsin registration. The pickup drives to a motorcycle dealer and delivers the motorcycle. At this point the vehicle has made an interstate move, did not weigh 26,001 pounds or more, and did not have three or more axles on the power unit. This driver has operated within the law.

The driver then picks up a different motorcycle from the dealer. If the vehicle leaves straight from Illinois directly into another state, there is still no violation. To change the scenario, imagine the driver has to get this motorcycle from one Illinois dealer to another Illinois dealer. The astute truck officer may notice a potential violation and decide to pull over the truck.

As the officer speaks to driver, he discovers the travels the truck has made. Because the driver picked up a load in Illinois and delivered the same load to another location in Illinois, the driver needs to pay registration tax to Illinois. In this scenario, neither the truck nor the trailer have apportioned plates or a single trip permit. Therefore, this vehicle is operating without registration.

There is one last exemption – the repair exemption. This exemption allows a truck entering Illinois from another state, which would normally be required to pay registration tax, to travel freely to the shop for repairs. The truck must display a dealer plate from the home state and have a work order from the shop.

For any company doing business in other states, these rules will help ensure you can keep on trucking.

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A Pair of Plates

Since the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association became an information repository to its member police and trucking communities, many questions have been fielded about the confusing laws of this state. Some of the questions require complicated answers, others simple answers and some require a lot of research. In recent weeks, a unique rumor has made its way to the ITEA and the article this week will hopefully clear up the confusion because bad information spreads like wildfire.

While the ITEA does its best to answer questions where law enforcement and the trucking industry intersect, the association does it’s part to try and clear up nonsensical rumors. One of the most famous rumors began circulation in 2009 and can be read HERE.

This rumor had truckers and police officers believing that a trailer hitch, when not towing a trailer, must be removed or painted red. While this may have been a proposed bill in days gone by, it was never the law. The proposal lasted about as long as it will take to finish reading this article.

The rumor dealt with today has to do with vehicle registration. It’s not surprising this rumor is about registration since this is such a dynamic and ever changing category of law.
The situation arose when a police officer stopped a semi-tractor bobtailing. Bobtailing is when a semi-tractor is operating without pulling a semi-trailer. The officer, who was not trained by the ITEA, took note the tractor was operating on a public highway without a rear registration plate. See the ITEA article “One Plate, Two Plate” which can be read HERE.

Through his basic training, he knew that vehicles in the state of Illinois are issued a pair of license plates. This truck had an Illinois (Z) base plate good for 80,000 pounds. Are Illinois Z plates issued in pairs? Sometimes. Here’s what the law says:

(625 ILCS 5/3-413) Display of registration plates, registration stickers, and drive-away permits;

(a) Registration plates issued for a motor vehicle other than a motorcycle, auto cycle, trailer, semitrailer, truck-tractor, apportioned bus, or apportioned truck shall be attached thereto, one in the front and one in the rear. The registration plate issued for a motorcycle, auto cycle, trailer or semitrailer required to be registered hereunder and any apportionment plate issued to a bus under the provisions of this Code shall be attached to the rear thereof. The registration plate issued for a truck-tractor or an apportioned truck required to be registered hereunder shall be attached to the front thereof.

While Z-trucks plates can be issued in pairs, it was not in this circumstance. The truck the officer stopped was a truck-tractor and registered as such, which means only a single plate was issued. It was correctly affixed to the front of the vehicle as mentioned in the statute above.

Luckily for the truck driver, the officer did not issue him a citation. Although the citation would have been dismissed in court, it still would have cost the driver or the company time and money.

Are there any interesting rumors you would like to share with the ITEA? Follow us on Facebook and share your story with us.

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Exempt Vehicle Plates

Red. It is the universal color representing the command to “stop”. Octagonal stop signs are red. Traffic control devices are red. Brake lights are red. While red means stop, it is also the color which represents rage and anger. When things get red-hot, look out! It is also the color of warning. Think of the shiver up your spine when the metaphorical red flags are raised. The article this week discusses the reddest of red license plates in Illinois – the Exempt Vehicle (EV) plate. Does this plate represent anger? Does this plate mean “stop”? The answer to both questions is yes, but the better questions are why does the plate provoke anger and who is the plate trying to stop?

The “who” question will go first, which explain the “why”. The answer to “who is the red EV plate trying to stop” question? The police officer, that’s who. What the what?

Vehicles in Illinois, whether they be cars trucks, trailers, or buses, are required to be registered with the Secretary of State (SOS). When it comes to truck and trailers, also known as second division vehicles, registration serves as more than an external, steel plate of identification.

Registration for these vehicles also serves as tax to carry weight on the highways of this great state. The heavier the vehicle, the more tax the owner must pay. When the police stop and weigh a vehicle which has not paid enough tax, they are issued an overweight ticket with fairly significant fines attached. The stakes are high.

As is the re-occurring theme of this blog for the last six years, nothing is easy with truck law. It is complicated. It is confusing. The benefit of the doubt will be extended to the police officer because although he may take the incorrect enforcement action, it is reasonable to understand why he makes a mistake.

While all vehicles are required to be registered, there are exceptions to the rule. It goes without saying that if a vehicle is exempt from registration, it needs not display a steel license plate. If this is the case, why then is there an EV license plate at all? Does that not completely defeat the purpose of being an exempt vehicle?

Yes. The logic is spot on. However, because the law surrounding exempt vehicles is confusing and open to interpretation through the regulatory authority of the SOS, police officers sometimes err (they are human too). They sometimes mistake an exempt vehicle not displaying registration as second division vehicle which requires registration. Therefore, they feel there is an overweight enforcement action which can be taken.

The sole purpose of the red EV plate is to alert the police officer the vehicle has been declared by the SOS to be an exempt vehicle which does not require any registration. There is not an overweight on registration citation to be issued.

Unless, of course, the EV plate is being used improperly, or was applied for with fraudulent information. In those instances, the vehicle might have been required to pay a tax for the weight, but not necessarily. Truck officers need to use great discretion and check with the SOS prior to assuming they have navigated the law correctly.

Needless to say, vehicle owners have been left seeing red when the police officer has misinterpreted the validity of the EV plate. The owner who has done their homework, lawfully applied for and received EV plates, has some legitimate consternation. This does not excuse deconstructive behavior on their part to humiliate or prove the officer wrong at roadside.

Mistakes, as unfortunate and inconvenient as they are, can usually be corrected. The Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has stepped in and settled this issue many times, and will continue to provide education to both professions to minimize the confusion.

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2017 Truck Officer of the Year Award

How is a hero defined? Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities.” Ask a child who they say a hero is and they say Superman, Batman or their parents. In the world of truck enforcement, a hero is the police officer who does his best to be a model for teamwork, ethics and integrity. How does one know who that officer is? Read on to find out!

For several years, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has been honoring local police officers who have shown they not only care about policing trucks, but protecting the trucking industry through their enforcement. These officers have realized the safety of Illinois’ roads is more important than creating revenue for the areas they serve.

A good truck officer continues his education well beyond the basic truck enforcement classes. He or she makes connections and relies on others when they are unsure if they are making the correct decision. That same officer is also a resource for other police officers, as well as the driver and companies he works with on the street.

Police officers take an ethical oath of office when they are sworn into service. They swear they will uphold the laws to the best of their abilities. A top-notch truck officer takes the oath further and agrees they will not bend laws to fit their needs. Illinois truck law is complicated, and all police officers should be on the same page when it comes to interpretation and enforcement of the laws.

Unfortunately, the history of truck enforcement in Illinois has had questionable moments. For instance, officers have been taught if they do not have scales to weigh a truck, they could use any weight information available to write a ticket based on non-statutory evidence.

Practices like this do not fit the integrity model a good police officer holds dear. Throughout the history of the ITEA, many poor enforcement practices which were once commonplace have been corrected. The Truck Officer of the Year award showcases how an officer’s integrity comes before ticket writing and revenue creating.

2017 is the fourth year for the Glenn Strebel Truck Officer of the Year award. The past three winners have been excellent stewards of the award and have continued to be models for future recipients. Glenn Strebel, the police officer for whom the award is named, was a part-time police officer for East Dundee, Illinois. As the ITEA was being created in 2009, Glenn passed away from cancer. This award is a way for the ITEA to honor officers like Glenn, who believed in the mission the ITEA would soon undertake.

The first award winner was Sergeant Andrew Thomas of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in 2015. Sergeant Thomas has continued to share his knowledge with new truck officers by teaching at the ITEA’s state certified classes.

In 2016, the honor went to Vernon Hills Police Officer Art Fink. Officer Fink created a truck enforcement program when there wasn’t one, and became a driving force of fair truck enforcement practices in Lake County. Officer Fink continues to be a leader by serving on the board of the ITEA and helping with various programs directed at training police officers and the trucking industry.

The current award recipient is Officer Tim Sheldon of the Hillsboro Police Department. Officer Sheldon has been an integral part of bringing high standards of truck enforcement to a part of the state with very little enforcement. Officer Sheldon continues to participate with the ITEA and spread the mission to places outside of the Chicago suburbs.

So now it’s up to the readers to nominate the award winner for 2017. The nomination process is now open and can be found at the ITEA website HERE. Please take a moment to honor a police officer who is doing things right.

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