Arizona lawmakers OK bill to authorize tolls, harsher OOS penalties

| 7/8/2009

The Arizona Legislature has forwarded to the governor a lengthy transportation bill that includes several provisions of interest to truckers. Among the most notable provisions is an attempt to bring toll roads to the state.

Cities and towns throughout the state would have the authority to build, operate and finance the construction of toll roads.

The provision was tacked onto the transportation bill that received final approval in the Senate on a 19-8 vote. House lawmakers previously approved it by a vote of 40-19. The passage cleared the way for the bill – SB1320 – to move to Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk.

Advocates for the new tolling authority say collecting fees would relieve some of the burden on taxpayers. Others insist they aren’t pushing specific toll projects. They simply want to expand the options available to the state to get work done.

Truck driver and OOIDA member David Goss of New River, AZ, isn’t opposed to toll roads but he is concerned about the state abusing eminent domain laws to take land for projects.

“I don’t have a problem with toll roads used by local people. If they want to make a toll road, that’s fine – as long as it’s not on the interstate and affecting interstate commerce,” Goss told Land Line. “I do have an objection with toll roads being built where they use eminent domain to seize the property.”

Also included in the bill are provisions that directly address trucking. Courts would be required to send records of photo radar traffic tickets to the Arizona Department of Transportation for commercial driver’s license holders.

Another provision would allow courts to require CDL holders to attend defensive driving school as part of a sentence for a moving violation.

Goss said he thinks all truckers would benefit from regular defensive driving courses.

“There can’t be enough education for truck drivers out here. Just like pilots. They are always in training. They have (multimillion dollar) aircraft where we have a $100,000 truck. We still are moving large vehicles with property,” he said.

Other changes to Arizona law seek to get tough with those in the trucking industry who don’t heed their out-of-service orders. First-time offenders would see the length of time they are prohibited from driving double from 90 to 180 days. Repeat offenses within 10 years would result in two years off the road. Currently, violators are prohibited from driving for one year.

For motor carriers who violate an out-of-service order or permit a driver to violate an OOS order, the maximum penalty would jump from $11,000 to $25,000.

Supporters say adoption of the OOS penalties would preserve some of Arizona’s federal highway funding.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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