07/11/2013 by Attorney John R. Lockard
Violations of moving and hauling permits can be expensive for construction companies. The local police usually consider the permit to be invalid if any of the requirements of the permit are violated. In those cases, the police impose penalties based on the general weight limitations and not the weight established in the permit. This can result in civil citations that include very high fines for “liquidated damages” based on the amount the load exceeds the statutory limits.
In many cases, and in addition to the civil fine against the company, the police also issue criminal summons to individuals involved in the violation of the permit. Often, these charges are brought against the employee driving the overweight vehicle and the escort drivers. In one case, the police even charged the dispatcher who allegedly directed the driver to travel on a route in violation of the permit. Violation of an overweight or oversize vehicle permit is a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and a sentence of up to a year in jail. Violations of hauling permits can also impact the employee’s commercial driver’s license.
The possible defenses to the civil penalty and the criminal charges are not always the same. To further complicate matters, the court dates for the criminal charges are usually scheduled before the court date for the civil citation. A plea agreement by the driver of the vehicle may have adverse consequences if the company wants to contest the civil penalty. This means that the company needs to take steps early to evaluate the potential claims and prepare its defense. In some cases, the company may need to hire separate legal counsel for its employees, if it wants to provide a defense for its employees.
The variety of claims that can result from a violation of a moving and hauling permit can create complicated and expensive legal situations for construction contractors. Construction companies should take early actions to evaluate these circumstances and consult with an attorney before any of the parties involved in the violation make any court appearances.
These articles are meant to bring awareness to these topics and are not intended to be used as legal advice.