Compromise set on overweight truck fines in South Dakota

| Friday, February 21, 2003

The South Dakota House of Representatives has passed a bill providing for plea bargains to be offered to some truckers when they are cited the first time under overweight truck regulations.

Rep. Bill Napoli, R-Rapid City, told The Associated Press Feb. 20 that HB1172 is a compromise between those who wanted to lower the penalties and those who wanted to keep them high. The bill passed the House Feb. 20 by a vote of 66-1.

Under the bill, no plea bargains could be struck Feb. 15 to April 30, when conditions make roads easier to damage, and 2nd or 3rd offenses could not be plea bargained either.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said when the issue was first brought up that heavy fines for overweight trucks would do little to improve the situation.

 “Fining drivers has never been an effective deterrent to overweight trucks,” Spencer said.

 “To be effective, the penalty must go to the recipient, the beneficiary of the overweight truck, and that’s usually the shipper,” he said. “Whether it’s coal or agriculture or steel, regardless, if the shipper benefits from overloading the truck, there’s virtually nothing the truckdriver can do to stop it.”

AP reported in November that Napoli and about 10 other lawmakers planned to introduce a measure in the South Dakota Legislature to lower the penalties levied on overweight trucks. Since then, several bills to reduce the penalties have failed.

Napoli said then that the state’s overweight fines, passed by the 1999 Legislature as part of a boost in the state fuel tax, were too harsh, running four times higher than those levied by neighboring states. He contended at that time they should be lowered to just above what the fines were running in surrounding states.

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