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Questions and Answers About Vehicle Size and Weight

23 CFR 657.15 Certification requirements

23 CFR 657.15 Certification requirements

What is a certification?

It is a written statement issued and signed by a public officer, but not necessarily or customarily sworn to, which is, by law, evidence of the facts stated.

Why are States required to certify that they are enforcing their size and weight laws and regulations "on those highways which, prior to October 1, 1991, were designated as part of the Federal-aid Primary (FAP), Federal-aid Secondary (FAS), or Federal-aid Urban (FAU) Systems?"

This is required under 23 U.S.C. 141(b). However, the ISTEA replaced these designations with the National Highway System (NHS) effective June 1, 1991. The October 1, 1991 date was adopted in the certification to reflect the beginning of the fiscal year. Since 23 U.S.C. 141(b) was not changed and the FAP, FAS and FAU are not coextensive with the NHS, the old designations were retained in the certification.

What constitutes "adequate" enforcement of State size and weight laws?

It is basically compliance with each State's historical level of enforcement and its Annual Enforcement Plan.

If a vehicle is found to be overweight and a citation is issued, must States also require that the load be shifted or unloaded to the legal limit?

No. As long as an enforcement action has been taken, load shifting or unloading is not required, although States may adopt such a practice if they wish.

Must State enforcement of its size and weight laws include enforcement on Indian reservations?

Not where treaties block enforcement of State laws on reservations.

Why doesn't Alaska or Puerto Rico have to certify that they are enforcing their weight limits on the Interstate System?

Because neither has any highways subject to Interstate System weight limits. As a result, they may set limits either higher or lower than the Interstate System weight limits, and are not required to adopt the Federal definition of nondivisible loads or vehicles, since it applies only on the Interstate System. However, they must certify that they are enforcing all size and weight limits on non-Interstate routes which, prior to October 1, 1991, were designated as part of the Federal-aid Primary, Urban and Secondary Systems.

A Governor may designate an "official" to sign the State's certification in his stead. Must the designation include the official's name and/or title?

The certification must include the official's title to show that the person is indeed an official but not necessarily the person's name, i.e., the Governor may designate the "Director of the Department Of Transportation," for example. That way, the certification can be signed by whoever holds the office.

How does NIST's (National Institute of Standards and Technology) work interact with the enforcement of weight laws?

NIST has a voluntary program for the accreditation of State weights and measures laboratories. Absent that accreditation, courts may be reluctant to conclude that State scales are accurate.

Is a minimum penalty (such as $1.00 for the first 1,000 pounds of overweight) consistent with enforcement of weight limits on the Interstate System?

It would be a tolerance in all but name, unless grandfathered.

May States assess fewer than four penalties when one vehicle violates the single axle, tandem axle, gross weight, and bridge formula weight limits on the Interstate System?

No. These are separate legal requirements and failure to assess a penalty for violation of any of them is a tolerance of that overweight, which is prohibited on the Interstate System.

Is RELEVANT EVIDENCE an acceptable weight enforcement technique?

Yes. Under it, States check shipping papers at freight offices to see if vehicles were dispatched overweight. Since only gross weights are normally available, it cannot be viewed as a replacement for scale weighing but only as a supplement. One advantage is that it allows penalties to be assessed against parties who may be more culpable than drivers for overweight violations.

Is a warning issued to a driver of an overweight vehicle an enforcement tool or simply an exemption from the normal weight limit?

It depends. If a State never moves from warnings to actual citations, it is equivalent to an exemption. In addition, warnings should be limited to minor or inadvertent overweights and even then should be severely limited in number. More serious or deliberate violations should be cited immediately. If properly used, warnings can be a legitimate enforcement activity.

Are States required to install weigh-in-motion systems in conjunction with transponder-based scale bypass programs?

Not necessarily if there is some assurance that the bypass technology is adequate to prevent overweight trucks from bypassing open scales so that States may honestly certify that they are adequately enforcing their weight limits.

What vehicles must stop at weigh stations?

States determine what vehicles must stop at weigh stations. Some require all commercial motor vehicles to stop, while others require only those above a certain weight to stop. Ultimately, States must certify that they are enforcing their weight limits on certain highways in order not to jeopardize their receipt of Federal highway funds. Excluding a significant number of heavy vehicles from stopping at weigh stations would be inconsistent with such a certification.
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