316.545 Weight and load unlawful; special fuel and motor fuel tax enforcement; inspection; penalty; review.—
(1) Any weight and safety officer of the Department of Transportation having reason to believe that the weight of a vehicle and load is unlawful is authorized to require the driver to stop and submit to a weighing of the same by means of either portable or fixed scales and may require that such vehicle be driven to the nearest weigh station or public scales, provided such a facility is within 5 highway miles. Upon a request by the vehicle driver, the officer shall weigh the vehicle at fixed scales rather than by portable scales if such a facility is available within 5 highway miles. Anyone who refuses to submit to such weighing obstructs an officer pursuant to s. 843.02 and is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Anyone who knowingly and willfully resists, obstructs, or opposes a weight and safety officer while refusing to submit to such weighing by resisting the officer with violence to the officer’s person pursuant to s. 843.01 is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2)(a) Whenever an officer, upon weighing a vehicle or combination of vehicles with load, determines that the axle weight or gross weight is unlawful, the officer may require the driver to stop the vehicle in a suitable place and remain standing until a determination can be made as to the amount of weight thereon and, if overloaded, the amount of penalty to be assessed as provided herein. However, any gross weight over and beyond 6,000 pounds beyond the maximum herein set shall be unloaded and all material so unloaded shall be cared for by the owner or operator of the vehicle at the risk of such owner or operator. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, to facilitate compliance with and enforcement of the weight limits established in s. 316.535, weight tables published pursuant to s. 316.535(7) shall include a 10-percent scale tolerance and shall thereby reflect the maximum scaled weights allowed any vehicle or combination of vehicles. As used in this section, scale tolerance means the allowable deviation from legal weights established in s. 316.535. Notwithstanding any other provision of the weight law, if a vehicle or combination of vehicles does not exceed the gross, external bridge, or internal bridge weight limits imposed in s. 316.535 and the driver of such vehicle or combination of vehicles can comply with the requirements of this chapter by shifting or equalizing the load on all wheels or axles and does so when requested by the proper authority, the driver shall not be held to be operating in violation of said weight limits.
(b) The officer shall inspect the license plate or registration certificate of the commercial vehicle, as defined in s. 316.003(66), to determine if its gross weight is in compliance with the declared gross vehicle weight. If its gross weight exceeds the declared weight, the penalty shall be 5 cents per pound on the difference between such weights. In those cases when the commercial vehicle, as defined in s. 316.003(66), is being operated over the highways of the state with an expired registration or with no registration from this or any other jurisdiction or is not registered under the applicable provisions of chapter 320, the penalty herein shall apply on the basis of 5 cents per pound on that scaled weight which exceeds 35,000 pounds on laden truck tractor-semitrailer combinations or tandem trailer truck combinations, 10,000 pounds on laden straight trucks or straight truck-trailer combinations, or 10,000 pounds on any unladen commercial motor vehicle. If the license plate or registration has not been expired for more than 90 days, the penalty imposed under this paragraph may not exceed $1,000. In the case of special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), which qualifies for the license tax provided for in s. 320.08(5)(b), being operated on the highways of the state with an expired registration or otherwise not properly registered under the applicable provisions of chapter 320, a penalty of $75 shall apply in addition to any other penalty which may apply in accordance with this chapter. A vehicle found in violation of this section may be detained until the owner or operator produces evidence that the vehicle has been properly registered. Any costs incurred by the retention of the vehicle shall be the sole responsibility of the owner. A person who has been assessed a penalty pursuant to this paragraph for failure to have a valid vehicle registration certificate pursuant to the provisions of chapter 320 is not subject to the delinquent fee authorized in s. 320.07 if such person obtains a valid registration certificate within 10 working days after such penalty was assessed.
(c) Weight limits established and posted for a road or bridge pursuant to s. 316.555 and weight limits specified in special permits issued pursuant to s. 316.550 shall be deemed to include all allowable tolerances. In those cases when a vehicle or combination of vehicles exceeds the weight limits established and posted for a road or bridge pursuant to s. 316.555, or exceeds the weight limits permitted in a special permit issued pursuant to s. 316.550, the penalty shall be 5 cents per pound on the difference between the scale weight of the vehicle and the weight limits for such posted road or bridge or permitted in such special permit. However, if a special permit is declared invalid in accordance with rules promulgated pursuant to s. 316.550, the penalties imposed in subsection (3) shall apply to those weights which exceed the limits established in s. 316.535.
(3) Any person who violates the overloading provisions of this chapter shall be conclusively presumed to have damaged the highways of this state by reason of such overloading, which damage is hereby fixed as follows:
(a) When the excess weight is 200 pounds or less than the maximum herein provided, the penalty shall be $10;
(b) Five cents per pound for each pound of weight in excess of the maximum herein provided when the excess weight exceeds 200 pounds. However, whenever the gross weight of the vehicle or combination of vehicles does not exceed the maximum allowable gross weight, the maximum fine for the first 600 pounds of unlawful axle weight shall be $10;
(c) For a vehicle equipped with fully functional idle-reduction technology, any penalty shall be calculated by reducing the actual gross vehicle weight or the internal bridge weight by the certified weight of the idle-reduction technology or by 400 pounds, whichever is less. The vehicle operator must present written certification of the weight of the idle-reduction technology and must demonstrate or certify that the idle-reduction technology is fully functional at all times. This calculation is not allowed for vehicles described in s. 316.535(6);
(d) An apportioned motor vehicle, as defined in s. 320.01, operating on the highways of this state without being properly licensed and registered shall be subject to the penalties as herein provided; and
(e) Vehicles operating on the highways of this state from nonmember International Registration Plan jurisdictions which are not in compliance with the provisions of s. 316.605 shall be subject to the penalties as herein provided.
(4)(a) No commercial vehicle, as defined in s. 316.003(66), shall be operated over the highways of this state unless it has been properly registered under the provisions of s. 207.004. Whenever any law enforcement officer identified in s. 207.023(1), upon inspecting the vehicle or combination of vehicles, determines that the vehicle is in violation of s. 207.004, a penalty in the amount of $50 shall be assessed, and the vehicle may be detained until payment is collected by the law enforcement officer.
(b) In addition to the penalty provided for in paragraph (a), the vehicle may be detained until the owner or operator of the vehicle furnishes evidence that the vehicle has been properly registered pursuant to s. 207.004. Any officer or agent of the Department of Transportation may issue a temporary fuel use permit and collect the appropriate fee as provided for in s. 207.004(4). Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (6), all permit fees collected pursuant to this paragraph shall be transferred to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to be allocated pursuant to s. 207.026.
(c) Any person aggrieved by the imposition of penalties pursuant to this subsection may apply to the review board, as provided for in subsection (8), for modification, cancellation, or revocation of the penalty, and the review board is authorized to modify, cancel, revoke, or sustain such penalty.
(5) Whenever any person violates the provisions of this chapter and becomes indebted to the state because of such violation in the amounts aforesaid and refuses to pay said penalty, in addition to the provisions of s. 316.3026, such penalty shall become a lien upon the motor vehicle, and the same may be foreclosed by the state in a court of equity. It shall be presumed that the owner of the motor vehicle is liable for the sum. Any person, firm, or corporation claiming an interest in the seized motor vehicle may, at any time after the lien of the state attaches to the motor vehicle, obtain possession of the seized vehicle by filing a good and sufficient forthcoming bond with the officer having possession of the vehicle, payable to the Governor of the state in twice the amount of the state’s lien, with a corporate surety duly authorized to transact business in this state as surety, conditioned to have the motor vehicle or combination of vehicles forthcoming to abide the result of any suit for the foreclosure of such lien. It shall be presumed that the owner of the motor vehicle is liable for the penalty imposed under this section. Upon the posting of such bond with the officer making the seizure, the vehicle shall be released and the bond shall be forwarded to the Department of Transportation for safekeeping. The lien of the state against the motor vehicle aforesaid shall be foreclosed in equity, and the ordinary rules of court relative to proceedings in equity shall control. If it appears that the seized vehicle has been released to the defendant upon his or her forthcoming bond, the state shall take judgment of foreclosure against the property itself, and judgment against the defendant and the sureties on the bond for the amount of the lien, including cost of proceedings. After the rendition of the decree, the state may, at its option, proceed to sue out execution against the defendant and his or her sureties for the amount recovered as aforesaid or direct the sale of the vehicle under foreclosure.
(6) Any officer or agent collecting the penalties herein imposed shall cooperate with the owners or drivers of motor vehicles so as not to delay unduly the vehicles. All penalties imposed and collected under this section by any state agency having jurisdiction shall be paid to the Chief Financial Officer, who shall credit the total amount thereof to the State Transportation Trust Fund, which shall be used to repair and maintain the roads of this state and to enforce this section.
(7) There is created within the Department of Transportation the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board, consisting of three permanent members who shall be the secretary of the Department of Transportation, the executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Commissioner of Agriculture, or their authorized representatives, which may review any penalty imposed upon any vehicle or person under the provisions of this chapter relating to weights imposed on the highways by the axles and wheels of motor vehicles, to special fuel and motor fuel tax compliance, or to violations of safety regulations.
(a) The secretary of the Department of Transportation or his or her authorized representative shall be the chair of the review board.
(b) Each permanent member of the review board may designate one additional person to be a member of the review board.
(c) The review board may execute its responsibilities by meeting as a single group or as subgroups consisting of one authorized representative of each permanent member.
(d) The chair of the review board is responsible for the administrative functions of the review board.
(e) The review board may hold sessions and conduct proceedings at any place within the state.
(8) Any person aggrieved by the imposition of a civil penalty pursuant to this section, s. 316.3025, or s. 316.550 may apply to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Review Board for a modification, cancellation, or revocation of the penalty; and the review board is authorized to modify, cancel, revoke, or sustain such penalty.
(9) Any agent of the Department of Transportation who is employed for the purpose of being a weight and safety officer and who meets the qualifications established by law for law enforcement officers shall have the same arrest powers as are granted any law enforcement officer for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of weight, load, safety, commercial motor vehicle registration, and fuel tax compliance laws.
(10) The Department of Transportation may employ weight inspectors to operate its fixed-scale facilities. Weight inspectors on duty at a fixed-scale facility are authorized to enforce the laws governing commercial motor vehicle weight, registration, size, and load and to assess and collect civil penalties for violations of said laws. A weight inspector may detain a commercial motor vehicle that has an obvious safety defect critical to the continued safe operation of the vehicle or that is operating in violation of an out-of-service order as reported on the federal Safety and Fitness Electronic Records database. The weight inspector may immediately summon a law enforcement officer of the Department of Transportation, or other law enforcement officer authorized by s. 316.640 to enforce the traffic laws of this state, to take appropriate enforcement action. The vehicle shall be released if the defect is repaired prior to the arrival of a law enforcement officer. Weight inspectors shall not be classified as law enforcement officers subject to certification requirements of chapter 943, and are not authorized to carry weapons or make arrests. Any person who obstructs, opposes, or resists a weight inspector in the performance of the duties herein prescribed shall be guilty of an offense as described in subsection (1) for obstructing, opposing, or resisting a law enforcement officer.
History.—s. 1, ch. 71-135; ss. 2, 3, ch. 73-57; s. 1, ch. 76-31; s. 1, ch. 79-390; ss. 1, 3, ch. 80-298; s. 191, ch. 81-259; s. 5, ch. 84-260; s. 2, ch. 85-87; s. 57, ch. 85-180; s. 9, ch. 86-243; s. 18, ch. 87-198; s. 3, ch. 87-225; s. 6, ch. 87-270; s. 2, ch. 88-303; s. 25, ch. 91-221; s. 35, ch. 91-224; s. 5, ch. 91-429; s. 27, ch. 94-306; s. 902, ch. 95-148; s. 6, ch. 95-247; s. 13, ch. 99-385; s. 7, ch. 2002-20; s. 357, ch. 2003-261; s. 16, ch. 2003-286; s. 12, ch. 2010-225.