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April 22, 1994


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 92-TR-54393. Honorable James T. Doyle, Judge, Presiding.

Released for Publication May 27, 1994.

Inglis, Bowman, Doyle

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Inglis

PRESIDING JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court:

After a bench trial in the circuit court of Kane County, defendant, Peter Picou, was found guilty of operating an overweight vehicle in violation of section 15-111(g) of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 15-111(g) (now codified, as amended, at 625 ILCS 5/15-111(f) (West Supp. 1993))) and fined $8,995. On appeal, defendant claims that (1) the weight limitations of section 15-111(g) do not apply to the county road upon which he was driving at the time of the offense; (2) he operated the vehicle under a valid overweight permit which exempted the vehicle from the applicable weight limitations; and (3) his operation of the vehicleon the county road was proper under the five-mile access rule of section 15-111(g). We reverse.

The record on appeal consists of the traffic citation issued to defendant and an agreed statement of facts submitted pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 323(d) (134 Ill. 2d R. 323(d)). The incident in question occurred on September 22, 1992, while defendant was operating a vehicle on the 100 block of south Kirk Road in Geneva. Patrolman Reese and Sergeant Party of the Geneva police department issued defendant an "Illinois Overweight Ticket & Complaint." The ticket reveals that defendant was operating a truck owned by Link Truck Service. The truck had six axles, with a distance of 59 feet 6 inches between extreme axles.

The ticket charged defendant with operating a truck with a gross weight "in violation of Para. 15-111(g) of the Illinois Vehicle Code with the gross weight of the vehicle or combination thereof, with a load of 134,060 pounds being 54,060 pounds in excess of maximum allowed by statute." The parties stipulated that the Department of Transportation (Department) issued defendant an overweight permit. The permit stated that the vehicle's destination was Payhauler, Inc., which is located on Kirk Road south of State Route 38, in Batavia. The permit designated the end of the route as "Geneva, Jct. 38 & Kirk Rd."

Defendant's vehicle was within the weight specified in the permit. Payhauler is located on Kirk Road and is within five highway miles of the intersection of Route 38 and Kirk Road. Kirk Road is maintained by Kane County, and the portion of Kirk Road south of Route 38 is posted as a "Class II Truck Route."

After hearing the testimony, the trial court continued the cause so that the parties could submit memoranda of law and present arguments to the court. After hearing arguments, the trial court found defendant guilty and imposed the fine. This timely appeal followed.

Before analyzing the disputed provisions of section 15-111 of the Code, it is helpful to discuss the general structure of chapter 15 of the Code. Section 15-101(a) states that it is unlawful:

"for any person to drive * * * upon or across any highway any vehicle or vehicles of a * * * weight exceeding the limitations stated in this Chapter or otherwise in violation of this Chapter, and the maximum * * * weight of vehicles herein specified shall be lawful throughout this State, and local authorities shall have no power or authority to alter such limitations except as express authority may be granted in this Chapter." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 15-101(a) (now 625 ILCS 5/15-101(a) (West 1992)).

Sections 15-111(a) and (b) set out the general weight limitations which apply to the "highways of this State." (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 15-111(a), (b) (now 625 ILCS 5/15-111(a), (b) (West 1992)).) The Code defines "highway" as "the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 1-126 (now 625 ILCS 5/1-126 (West 1992)).) The gross weight limit for a vehicle such as defendant's truck is 73,280 pounds. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 95 1/2, par. 15-111(b) (now 625 ILCS 5/15-111(b) (West 1992)).

Section 15-11(g) establishes, however, higher weight limits for certain designated roads. The first paragraph of subsection (g) states:

"Except for * * * those vehicles for which the Department issues overweight permits under authority of Section 15-301 of this Code, the weight limitations contained in this subsection (g) shall apply to the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and other highways in the system of State highways that have been designated by the Department. No vehicle shall be operated on said highways with * * * a gross weight in excess of 80,000 pounds for vehicle combinations of five axles or ...

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