Questions about Weigh Stations, Out-of-Service Orders & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of April 2015)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice.
These interpretations were made on March 14, 2015.
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CONFLICTING SIGNALS AT A SCALE
Q: If a scale has signs indicating it is closed but my in-cab PrePass unit provides a red stop signal anyway, should I stop at the scale or just drive on by? Monty in Ohio
A: Provided by Jim Brokaw, formerly a Staff Sergeant, Nebraska State Patrol, Carrier Enforcement Division, Lincoln, NE: Although the instructions for the PrePass say you are to follow the in-cab indication from your transponder, remember, it is a system to legally bypass an open scale. If the highway signs are indicating the scale is closed, there isn’t a legal requirement for anyone to stop, so any indication from your transponder at this point is irrelevant. What probably happened was that when the officers closed their scale, they forgot to switch their PrePass system to “closed”. You can find more specific information about the PrePass system on their website at www.prepass.com.
OUT-OF-SERVICE AT A WEIGH STATION
Q: When a CDL driver is placed out-of-service for 10 hours due to a logbook violation, can a law enforcement officer shut the driver down in a weigh station that is closed and has no restroom facilities? This seems unlawful since it is illegal to use the outdoors as a bathroom. Thank you – Vickie in South Carolina
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: I would hope the driver would be escorted to a nearby location that has restrooms and eating facilities available for the driver to use. The DOT regulations do not require law enforcement to escort the driver anywhere if they are placed out-of-service for HOS violations. Sometimes, law enforcement officers refuse to take drivers anywhere because they are afraid the driver will leave once they have left the driver alone. If there is plenty of room at the scale location to place vehicles/drivers out-of-service and continue to work, they may choose to keep the vehicle/driver there so the driver doesn’t get rabbit (run off) on them. If this is the case, I don’t know of anything the driver can do except ask if they could escort them to a suitable location that has restrooms and an eating facility.
RULES ABOUT STOPPING AT SCALES
Q: Can I drive a truck bobtail across some states without stopping at scales if I have a “Not for Hire” sticker on the door? J.R. in California
A: Provided by Officer Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: California law requires every commercial vehicle to stop at weigh stations when they are open. Currently, there is no exemption from entering the weigh station for a vehicle displaying a “Not for Hire” sign. Other states may have different rules and should be consulted for further information.
VIOLATING AN OUT-OF-SERVICE ORDER
Q: True or false – fines for violating an Out-of-Service order range from $2,500 to $5,000 for drivers and $2,750 to $25,000 for motor carriers? Thanks – James in Illinois
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: Mostly true. The civil penalty for a driver who violates an Out-of-Service order cannot be less than $2,500. But, if the driver gets a second conviction, the penalty cannot be less than $5,000. On top of those amounts, depending upon the state in which a conviction is made, there could also be additional fines, including court fees (even if the case never sets foot inside a courtroom). Subpart D – “Driver Disqualifications and Penalties” – says: “383.53 Penalties. (b) Special penalties pertaining to violation of Out-of-Service orders – (1) Driver violations. A driver who is convicted of violating an Out-of-Service order shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $2,500 for a first conviction and not less than $5,000 for a second or subsequent conviction, in addition to disqualification under 383.51(e). (2) Employer violations. An employer who is convicted of a violation of 383.37(d) shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $2,750 nor more than $25,000.”
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on March 14, 2015.