South Dakota Task Force Addresses Overweight Trucks
May 25, 1999
South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow's pet issue of overweight trucks is causing headaches for the task force that has to find ways to enforce the new law.
The overweight law was part of a highway funding package passed in the last legislative session. Counties can lose state highway money if they don't enforce weight limits, which are a particular problem among agricultural haulers in the state.
Janklow's position in supporting the law was that overweight vehicles damage the highways, so it didn't make sense to pass funding for new and improved highways without addressing the source of the problem.
A task force is trying to write standards to decide whether county enforcement programs are doing their job. It hopes to have guidelines ready by the end of June.
Meanwhile, published reports say that at least one in four state troopers is going to be pressed into the battle on overloaded trucks when the number of portable scales doubles next month. Sixty scales will be added to the Highway Patrol's arsenal. Last year, law enforcement officers stopped 3,637 overweight trucks in the state, an 8.5% increase from 1997.
Overweight penalties will be increased by 50% July 1. As the amount overweight goes up, so does the penalty. One provision of the new law prohibits plea bargaining in overweight cases.