Michigan bill changes truck rules

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/26/2012

A lengthy transportation bill nearing passage in Michigan includes multiple rule changes for truck drivers.

The House voted 59-45 to advance a 109-page bill to Gov. Rick Snyder that offers some forgiveness for certain overweight loads. Senate lawmakers already approved HB5668 by a four-vote margin.

Specifically, the change 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.

The change would apply 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, violators could 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.

A separate provision in the bill would bring Michigan into compliance with federal regulations by outlawing truckers’ use of text messaging devices while driving. A ban is also included on the use of hand-held phones.

Violations would be considered a “serious traffic violation.”

The state’s rule change would take effect in October 2013.

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

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