Spokane City Council members Monday agreed to a police department plan to enforce vehicle weight laws on city streets.
The council voted 6-1 in favor of three ordinances that will allow the city to send violators into municipal court where the city can retain a large share of any possible fines.
Councilman Bob Apple voted no. He said that police should be focusing enforcement efforts on major crimes like burglary and rape, particularly in the wake of budget cuts in the police department in recent years.
“I really don’t believe this is appropriate,” Apple said.
Other council members did not comment.
The police department has argued that overweight trucks pose a safety hazard and cause damage to many of the city’s busiest arterials. The department received an $88,000 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to purchase portable scales and two SUVs to carry officers and their equipment. The grant also provided money to train officers in vehicle weight enforcement.
The city joins Spokane County, which earlier this year announced it will implement a truck weight enforcement program through the sheriff’s department. Until now, load enforcement has been handled only by the State Patrol, and mostly on major state highways.
The average fine for operating an overweight truck is $1,500.
City officials budgeted an additional $500,000 in revenue for 2005 from the enforcement of vehicle weight restrictions and enforcement of regular traffic laws on weekends.
The ordinances approved Monday night incorporate existing state and federal laws into the city code, giving municipal court jurisdiction over violations of the law. The ordinances include implementation of the uniform commercial driver’s license act; vehicle inspections; and size, weight and load restrictions.
Police said Spokane’s industrial and retail economy creates large volumes of truck traffic on city streets, justifying a city effort to enforce truck laws.
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