It Doesn’t Pay to Disobey
We like to think police officers hold a higher value in society than traffic signs, but in reality they both share a common authority to regulate traffic. The human police officer is granted this authority in the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/1-162). Traffic signs, officially called traffic control devices, also receive their authority to control traffic in the IVC (625 ILCS 5/1-154). Traffic control devices include signs, lane markings and signals as well. When it comes to truck enforcement, the two are vastly different.
Truckers are used to seeing regulatory signs to weigh. Whether it is a weigh station alongside the side of the interstate or a portable scale location, truckers know that when the signs are up, you have to weigh. It doesn’t take long for word to spread across the radio when the police have the scales open, and truckers will turn off to avoid the scales. Problem is they might bypass another traffic control device restricting commercial vehicles and find themselves in a totally different enforcement situation.
The question is what happens when a trucker drives past the regulatory sign to weigh? The answer is simple…he has disobeyed a traffic control device as stated in 625 ILCS 5/11-305(a). This is a moving violation and can have damaging effects on a CDL. But it’s just a moving violation. The assumption that there is a higher penalty or fine simply because trucks are involved is erroneous.
This situation is vastly different than when a police officer himself orders a truck to weigh. Police officers have the right to order a truck to the scales to weigh when they have reason to believe it is overweight. This could be overweight on axle, gross, registration, permit, or the federal bridge formula. Regardless of the officer’s suspicion, there is no right to refusal. The truck driver must weigh.Read more
DUIs, CMVs, & CDLs
Drunk driving. It doesn’t take any real effort to convince someone of the danger and waste of life caused by it. Each person is at least one relationship removed from someone who has had their life impacted by a drunk driver. Thankfully, over the last 30 years, the number of fatal crashes in Illinois due to alcohol has been on the decline…but every death or serious injury is still one too many. Seat belt usage, safer cars, education campaigns, and better engineered roads have all played a part in this. Enforcement, however, is the universal deterrent that keeps drunk drivers off the road and begins the justice process for the offense. When it comes to CDL holders drinking and driving, there is a lot of confusion.
The first thing to understand is the definition of a commercial motor vehicle as it pertains to DUI. Different arenas of truck enforcement have different definitions of a CMV, but as it matters to DUI, a CMV is any vehicle or combination of vehicles that requires a commercial driver’s license.
The second point to understand is that a CDL holder has in essence two different licenses…an operator’s license and a CDL. If the CDL holder is operating a non-CDL vehicle under the influence, he is in trouble and his operator license can be suspended or revoked, also known as a “stop”. A CDL holder cannot have a stop on his operator’s license and maintain a valid CDL simultaneously. If the base license is gone, so goes the privileged CDL. It is possible to have a CDL disqualified for reasons other than DUI and still maintain a valid operator’s license. But if a CDL holder gets a DUI while driving a CMV, both licenses will be stopped.
The real confusion lies in the understanding the difference between the criminal charge of DUI while operating a CMV and administrative penalties for having any blood alcohol level at all. The crime of DUI is the same regardless of vehicle (625 ILCS 5/11-501A2) and the per se BAC is .08 (625 ILCS 5/11-501A1). While it is possible to be convicted of the criminal charge of DUI with a BAC less than .08, it is rare.Read more
If you ever want to enter in to a heated debate with police officers, bring up the topic of discretion. From the moment a police officer steps foot in the academy and up until the day he retires, the parameters of his discretion are constantly being refined. This is primarily accomplished by the endless playing of “what if” scenarios with other officers. Last week we looked at the warning system police officers have at their disposal…this week we will look at the human side of what, when and who to cite.
Recently, a police officer member of the ITEA was giving a presentation to a large group of landscape contractors. Due to the size and configurations of vehicles landscapers typically operate, a portion of the presentation was spent on instruction about when commercial driver’s licenses are needed and when they are not. After some basic guidelines were taught, photos of different trucks and combinations were shown, and the audience was asked to call out what classification of license a driver would need. Midway thru the photo array, one of the attendees raised his hand and asked the presenter his personal opinion about CDL criteria.Read more
Everybody wants a warning. Nobody wants to pay fines. When police officers stop motorists for traffic violations, the conversation invariably turns to whether or not the officer will issue a warning for the infraction instead of the citation. Sometimes the request turns adversarial when the driver pleads the wrong way for the wrong reason. Whether the violations happen in cars or trucks, the same story occurs. This week we will look at the warning ticket system and how it pertains to commercial vehicles.
When it comes to overweight violations, police officers have a statutory mandate to follow. In 625 ILCS 5/15-112(b), the General Assembly has legislated that police officers “shall” require the driver to legalize the load. In the event a police officer chooses not to cite a driver for an overweight ticket, he still must comply with this directive. To issue a written warning and not require the load be made legal weight could put an officer in a position of liability if the truck crashed further down the road. Would it make sense for a police officer to document a drunk driver on a warning ticket and then let the motorist continue on his way?Read more
Nothing evokes the personification of American trucking like the word “convoy”. The movie, the song, and the CB handles have lived on for decades in this country since the popularity of the industry reached an all-time high in the mid-1970’s. On Saturday October 6th, 2012, the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is partnering with the Special Olympics/Law Enforcement Torch Run to bring the World’s Largest Truck Convoy to Illinois. Illinois joins twenty-two other states and four Canadian provinces hosting this event. The ITEA is calling you to action…step out and make a difference!
Hey – did you notice the economy of the United States is a huge mess? Everyone is in this together. No one – regardless of occupation, social status or faith values – has been able to avoid the fallout of this crisis. Charitable giving has seen a decrease in giving as well, but ironically the margin is small compared to what has happened to the economy as a whole. As times goes on, the scholars will study this phenomenon and explain why a nation on the brink of bankruptcy continues to give selflessly. Maybe the answer is simple as…Americans are generous. For all the global negativism America receives about its decadence, a study comparing the philanthropic nature of the USA would be a welcome relief.Read more
FMCSR Week 10: A Wink and a Nod
In 1971, legendary British band “The Faces” released their best-selling record A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…to a Blind Horse. This old English phrase carries a sinister overtone. A nod and wink is a subtle cue for someone to do something they know is wrong. It allows the one empowering another to condone a behavior without having to actually speak the words. When it comes to local police officers enforcing the FMCSR, they are being admonished it is wrong to do so by training instructors. But hidden inside the clever wordsmithing is empowerment to do just the opposite. In this final week studying the FMCSR, a close look into the “winks and nods” of local FMCSR enforcement will be examined.
Imagine this scenario: A common jewel thief hosts a seminar to train some up-and-coming pickpockets in a new way to riches. However, the thief only wants to cash in on his niche knowledge, not be a party to future crimes. He advertises the class with an admonishment that the students will not be certified as master jewel thieves, as he is not one himself. During the training, he reminds the students master jewel thieves have certain street credentials, extensive training, and the blessing of crime lords…none of which the pickpockets will ever have. He also reminds them that stealing jewels is illegal and wrong to do, but then spends the course training them exactly how to do it.Read more
FMCSR Week 9: Apples Do Not Explain Oranges
When local police officers are instructed in quasi-enforcement of the FMCSR, they are falsely admonished they are not actually doing FMCSR enforcement but enforcing the State code. In an earlier post, the idea of “shoehorning” FMCSR violations into the Illinois Vehicle Code were discussed…these are violations that have no equivalent between the two codes. However, there are some violations of the FMCSR that closely resemble statutes in the IVC. This post will look at two such violations and how local police officers are being trained to improperly modify the IVC using the FMCSR.Read more
FMCSR Week 8: Community Caretakers
To protect and serve. The sloganeers from a past generation of law enforcement penned that phrase…and for good reason. It represents the “necessary-good” side of police work. The citizens depend on police officers for their security. […]Read more
FMCSR Week 7: Search & Detain
Any person drawing breath in the United States can affirm the litigious nature of our society. Though sometimes abused, the ability to levy civil remedies when constitutional rights have been violated is an important piece of our justice system. Police […]Read more
FMCSR Week 6: Shoehorning
Have you ever tried on a new pair of shoes at the store that are not broken in? You try using your finger to pull back the material, but your fingers take up too much space and it hurts to […]Read more