New Hampshire Senate OKs leeway on weight limits; other bills in play

| 2/8/2008

Several bills of interest to truck drivers in New Hampshire have been offered at the statehouse. Among the bills focusing on the trucking industry is a measure that would allow truckers a small helping hand.

The Senate passed a bill on a voice vote that would require law enforcement officers to allow a tolerance of 5 percent above certain specified weight limitations for vehicles on non-interstates and general highways. Sponsored by Sen. Robert Letourneau, R-Derry, the measure – SB364 – now moves to the House for further consideration.

Letourneau said truckers aren’t trying to sneak the extra weight. Several things can occur during the course of transporting shipments, such as snow accumulation, that cause loads to push allowed limits, he said.

Another bill focused on vehicle weights has been sidelined. Sponsored by Rep. Jim Ryan, D-Franklin, the bill would raise fines for driving overweight from $100 to $300. Subsequent offenses within one year would result in $750 fines – up from $250.

The House Transportation Committee opted to refer the bill – HB1461 – for further study.

Ryan’s bill calls for trucks found in violation while driving on non-interstates and general highways in the state to face $300 fines, or 6 cents for each pound in excess of the prescribed weight, whichever is greater – up from $200 or 2 cents. Repeat offenses would result in $750 fines or 6 cents per pound – up from $250 or 2 cents.

Subsequent offenses would result in $750 fines or 6 cents per pound up to an excess of 15,000 pounds – up from $250 or 2 cents. When the excess is between 15,001 pounds and 30,000 pounds, it would increase to 9 cents per pound and 12 cents per pound when the excess is more than 30,000 pounds – up from 3 cents and 4 cents, respectively.

Exceeding the posted weight limit on bridges would result in $600 fines – up from $200. Driving on bridges that trucks are prohibited from crossing would result in $1,200 fines – up from $400.

The additional revenue would be earmarked for the state’s highway fund.

Two more bills that deal with trucking issues are in the House Transportation Committee. The first bill would establish roadside inspection procedures for large trucks. Inspections could be carried out by highway patrol and enforcement officers or other law enforcement agents certified to conduct inspections.

Sponsored by Rep. Jordan Ulery, R-Hudson, the bill – HB1610 – also would make it a misdemeanor if the operator fails to stop or allow an inspection.

The other bill would remove the discretion of the courts to place on file, or otherwise mask, convictions incurred by commercial driver’s license holders in New Hampshire or other states. Deferred imposition and diversion programs would be included in the prohibition.

Sponsored by Rep. Robert Williams, D-Concord, the measure – HB1343 – would exempt parking tickets.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Hampshire in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor