Michigan bill package would use part of truck fines to benefit roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/23/2016

A legislative package introduced in the Michigan Legislature covers the use of revenue from citations handed out to truck drivers.

State law now distributes traffic citation revenues to state, local and other entities for various uses. Revenue is not applied to the state’s roads and bridges.

The four-bill package introduced in recent days would route a portion of the fines collected to be used by county road commissioners for local road maintenance.

“Currently, when commercial trucks get tickets for being overweight, none of that money gets directed toward roads,” Rep. Eric Leutheuser, R-Hillsdale, said in prepared remarks. “It makes little sense that when an overweight truck causes damage that we aren’t putting some of the money we get from penalties back into concrete and asphalt.”

OOIDA advocates for the Legislature to consider dedicating at least a portion of ticket revenue to aid roads and bridges. The Association has about 5,200 Michigan-based members and thousands more who travel the state’s roadways daily.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of state legislative affairs, said if a commercial vehicle is in violation of state weight limit laws some of the ticket revenue should be dedicated to repair roads and bridges.

“The existing allocation formula inevitably promotes issuing commercial motor vehicle traffic citations for profit, not safety,” Matousek said. “Further, in many jurisdictions, there really is no due process for truck drivers.”

He also points out if a court decides in favor of reducing or eliminating a traffic citation, it is a direct hit to state, local, and judicial coffers.

“Unavoidably, this reduces impartiality.”

The bill package would also clarify that ticket quotas are prohibited when enforcing rules on all drivers. Also, law enforcement would be prohibited from pulling over vehicles without a reason.

Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, said the provisions to quell ticket quotas will help ensure there is no ambiguity about the intentions of law enforcement.

“When people get pulled over, they want to know they are getting pulled over for the right reasons,” Shirkey stated. “Michigan is not a state where law enforcement should be ordered to issue a given amount of tickets on a given day, or to pull over a predetermined amount of cars.”

Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway, noted the portion of revenue directed to libraries would continue unchanged until another source of funding is found.

“But the vast majority of the fine revenue should be going to roads,” Lauwers said.

The bills, HB5490-HB5492 and SB861, are in committees.

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

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