Illinois lawmakers OK boost to idling fines, fail to end truck fee

| 6/3/2009

Two bills that truckers who drive in Illinois have been tracking for the past few months have met different fates at the statehouse.

The Illinois General Assembly signed off on a bill that would boost the fines for idling violations. An OOIDA Call to Action was issued prior to a committee vote. In what could be considered a win for Illinois truckers who made their voices heard about the bill, the panel voted to significantly reduce the fine amount for first offenders.

Since then, the House and Senate voted to forward the bill – HB2664 – to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Illinois law now prohibits diesel-powered vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 8,000 pounds from stationary idling longer than 10 minutes per hour in areas that include Chicago and East St. Louis, IL.

Violators face $50 fines for first offenses. Second or subsequent offenses within any 12-month period result in $150 fines. Certain exceptions apply.

The bill would increase the first-offender fine from $50 to $90. Repeat offenses would increase from $150 to $500.

As introduced, the bill called for boosting the fine for first offenders to $250. It also allowed for the ticket writing agency to keep 60 percent of the fine.

The version that awaits the governor’s signature would allow local law enforcement to keep $20 of the $90 ticket. But for repeat offenses, the agency would get more than 50 percent – $262. The rest of the money would be routed into the state’s general revenue fund and into a fund to educate truckers about the idling rule.

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Allen Will of Neoga, IL, is particularly concerned with the bill’s intent to boost fines with lucrative incentives being offered for tickets written.

“It’s going to create a corrupt agency because a corrupt agency has a financial advantage at stake. So that’s what it’s going to produce – a corrupt agency running around writing tickets,” Will told Land Line. “And even if you weren’t idling your truck it’s your word against theirs. They are going to have the incentive to write a ticket to buffalo you knowing you aren’t going to come back to town to try and fight it. It’s going to be their word against yours.”

In place since 2007, the idling rule is waived when temperatures are less than 32 degrees or higher than 80 degrees. Truckers are allowed to operate defrosters, heaters, air conditioners, or other equipment necessary “to prevent a safety or health emergency.”

A separate provision in current law addresses truckers who many times are forced to wait for extended amounts of time to conduct business. Illinois law specifies that while waiting to weigh, load or unload cargo or freight, truckers are limited to idling for no more than 30 minutes per hour “unless they are in a line of vehicles that regularly and periodically moves forward.”

Commercial distribution fee lives on
An effort that would have allowed truckers with Illinois base plates to keep more money in their pockets has been beaten back. In April, the Senate unanimously approved a bill to repeal collection of the commercial distribution fee for trucks in the state. The amount is a 14.35 percent surcharge of the annual registration fees.

SB1434 called for repealing collection of the commercial distribution fee for trucks in the state. The provision was later gutted from the bill in the House Executive Committee, effectively ending the pursuit of eliminating the fee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Illinois in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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