New Jersey bill addresses truck weight enforcement

| 3/18/2008

A bill in the New Jersey Assembly would allow sheriffs to weigh, measure and inspect commercial vehicles.

State law now relegates weighing and inspections to the New Jersey State Police.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, the bill would allow sheriff’s officers to require truck drivers to take their rigs to weigh stations or other locations to be weighed, but only if the officers had probable cause to believe trucks were in violation of state weight limits.

Only an officer certified by the state as a weighmaster can weigh the trucks. The scales would be required to be approved by the New Jersey Superintendent of Weights and Measures.

However, the State Police would retain the right to “establish and operate locations for the measurement and weighing of vehicles.”

In addition, the State Police would keep the sole authority to conduct random roadside weight checks. A random roadside inspection could not be conducted if the truck had been stopped for a random roadside inspection anywhere in the U.S. within the previous 24 hours.

This is the latest in several attempts in recent years to allow sheriffs to weigh, measure and inspect commercial vehicles in New Jersey. Dating back to 1996, only once has such a bill advanced out of committee. In 2003, the bill was awaiting consideration on the Assembly floor when the session ended.

Trucking industry officials in the state say the frequency of overweight trucks in the state doesn’t warrant expanding authority to conduct inspections. They question whether the motive for such an effort might be related to revenue generation.

Alternatives to expanded enforcement include designating land in municipalities where high-speed, modern weigh stations could be put in.

This year’s bill – A792 – is in the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.

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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor