Two Completely Separate Entities
Consistency. This one word is what the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association has strived to provide in all truck enforcement efforts across the state for the better part of a decade. Those from Illinois know when it comes to government functions, there is often much to be desired when it comes to consistency. The only thing which seems to be consistent is the constant change in rules and regulations. This article will discuss a specific delegation of duties in Illinois which typically leaves police officers and carriers begging for regulatory consistency.
One of the most commonly entangled areas in commercial vehicle enforcement, from both an industry and law enforcement perspective, are the responsibilities of the different regulatory agencies within Illinois.
Take, for example, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Secretary of State (SOS). Both regulatory agencies have specific responsibilities who seemingly have little impact on one another. Most individuals are aware the Illinois Secretary of State handles issues regarding registration, driver’s licensing and vehicle titles, while the Illinois Department of Transportation deals with all things Illinois roadways.
While it doesn’t happen very often, there are occasions when these two worlds collide. When this collision occurs, the financial consequences can be quite burdensome for carriers.
One of the primary responsibilities of the Illinois Department of Transportation, and units of local government, is the issuance of oversize and overweight permits. Generally, the issuance of these permits have very little, if anything to do with the registration of the permitted vehicle.
In its Basic Truck Enforcement Officer class, the ITEA teaches officers the concept of equivocation. Essentially, while the information on a permit should be accurate, the fact that it is not perfectly accurate doesn’t necessarily make the permit itself void. Part of this process has to do with the registration listed on the permit.
In many circumstances, if a permit has an incorrect license plate listed and the vehicle is stopped by law enforcement, the consequence would be a $120.00 citation for a violation of the permit. The reasoning is this: just because a company changes out a power unit, it doesn’t mean they didn’t pay the permit fee to carry the extra weight on Illinois roadways.
While permit information should be accurate, statute allows leeway in this situation. This idea is simple enough – allow a margin of error while still holding carriers responsible for the inaccurate information supplied. The permit is still valid, but there is a problem demanding enforcement.
As it pertains to IDOT, the rule to only cite for a violation of permit only applies to permits having a pre-approved route assigned as a single or round trip permit. The validity of the permit must be equivocally compared against the vehicle, the load and the permittee collectively.
When looking at IDOT’s Limited Continuous Operation (LCO) permits, the game is completely changed. LCO permits allow oversize and overweight vehicles to operate continuously on state highways without a pre-approved route.
Unlike assigned route permits, the license plate listed on an LCO permit is the sole criteria to establish validity. If a vehicle stopped by law enforcement has an LCO permit with the incorrect plate, the permit is not valid for that move.
This means the vehicle will only receive legal weights and dimensions and can be cited for those violations. The fines in these circumstances can be in the thousands of dollars.
Why the difference? The simple answer is LCO permits are far less regulated than assigned route permits. This makes these permits more susceptible for abuse by carriers. A carrier could obtain an LCO permit and allow multiple vehicles to use the permit with the only real consequence being a $120.00 citation. This would put legitimate, law abiding companies at a competitive disadvantage.
While registration plays a primary role in the aforementioned scenarios, what role does the Illinois Secretary of State play in these violations? The answer is none whatsoever.
The SOS has no interest in which agency issues oversize/overweight permits, which vehicles are operating on this authority or which roadways in Illinois those vehicles are traveling. As long as the vehicle owner pays the appropriate fee (weight tax), they are good to go in the eyes of Jesse White and his staff.