Cover Story
Watch your wallet
Cash-strapped states ramp up enforcement

By Clarissa Kell-Holland
staff writer


John Rissler had only gone about 20 miles into his 1,000-mile journey when he saw lights in his mirrors and pulled over to the side of the road.

The OOIDA member from California, MO, was headed to Boyertown, PA, with a load of steaks when he was pulled over for a Level II inspection.

Rissler said he was surprised when the officer handed him a violation notice.

The reason? His windows were tinted slightly darker than the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows. The FMCSA regulation requires the maximum window tinting on commercial vehicles to be at 30 percent. Rissler’s windows were tinted 33 percent.

Rissler said he had his windows darkened slightly because at night he was getting a lot of “headlight glare off the windows.” In the nearly 10 years Rissler has owned his 2000 Kenworth, he said he has never even been asked about the tinting on his side windows.

“It was dark and drizzling rain when the officer pulled me over, so I was curious how he could even tell that my windows were too dark,” Rissler told Land Line. “Then he told me the highway patrol had gotten a grant for these new window tint meters that could scan the windows and tell the window tint percentage.”

Anything for a buck. Other cities and states have joined in on the cash-grab as well. The city of Nashville, TN, is trying to increase parking fines from $50 to $500. One city council member told Land Line they are trying to eliminate the state’s cap on parking fines so they can charge what they want for parking violations.

Anti-idling ordinances are also becoming a big moneymaker for municipalities and states looking to cash in on truckers who are trying to stay comfortable in their rigs. One trucker called Land Line and said the officer who cited him for idling in California appeared fresh despite the 100-degree temperatures outside because he was idling as well.

Some enforcement actions will not only bring costly fines but, if enacted, will also force truckers to find pricey out-of-the-way routes.  

The state of New York is attempting to ban heavy trucks from the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York. OOIDA Member Terry Button said enforcement along these routes would be a nightmare – and expensive – for truckers trying to avoid costly toll fees.

The state of Virginia has eliminated nearly half of its rest areas to save money, but has a state law that prohibits truckers from parking on the shoulder.

As for Rissler, he just wants to know why those charged with enforcing the laws don’t have to obey them, too.

“When I was in the officer’s SUV and he was filling out his report, I asked him what percentage his windows were tinted at because they were a lot darker than mine. He said the law only applies to commercial vehicles, not law enforcement vehicles, and that just doesn’t seem fair to me,” he said. LL