Michigan Senate approves bills that cover overweight trucks, road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, December 07, 2012

Lawmakers in Michigan took action this week on multiple issues of interest to truck drivers. They include overweight truck rules and road safety.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday, Dec. 6, to advance a bill that would revise certain overweight truck rules. Specifically, SB968 would give courts discretion in imposing penalties on trucks that are not overweight overall, but may have one or more axles carrying more weight than allowed.

Michigan law now requires courts to impose a $200 fine for axle weight violations up to 4,000 pounds. The fine is applied even if the overall weight is lawful.

Sponsored by Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, the bill was amended to apply the change only to loads that are overweight on at least one axle between 1,000 pounds and 4,000 pounds.

In addition to court discretion on fines, the bill would allow violators to avoid the $200 per-axle fine resulting from misloaded axles if the fine under the schedule for excess weight would be less.

Also included in the bill is a requirement that courts impose penalties on special permitted loads that are overweight by up to 1,000 pounds on at least one axle but are not overweight overall. Fines could only be as much as $600.

The bill now awaits further consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

House lawmakers voted 57-51 to advance a bill to the governor that is intended to improve safety on roadways. The Senate already approved the bill – SB403.

Specifically, doctors would be authorized to warn the state that a patient might be a danger on roads. The change would affect personal license holders and CDL holders.

Physicians or optometrists would be allowed, not required, to notify the secretary of state or a third party about a patient’s “mental and physical qualifications” to operate a vehicle safely. Doctors would also be required to recommend a period of license suspension.

The recommended suspension period would have to be at least six months for motorists and at least 12 months for truck drivers. Reinstatements for affected drivers would cost $125.

Also, medical professionals couldn’t be held liable for referring a patient or a client to the state, which can then decide to take away their right to drive. In addition, doctors would not be liable for failure to notify the state about any potential driving problems for patients.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan, click here.

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