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Truck Drivers, Traffic Stops, and Oregon Trucker Weigh Stations

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From the Washington County (Oregon) Law Librarian:

Public law librarians get the darnedest questions. It’s not so much the questions themselves, but that people think that we have answers to their questions. We don’t! But we like that people think about us when trying to solve their problems.

And we do have the pretty good problem-solving and research skills. We also, most of us, have a lot of common sense, not to mention a lot of people we can call upon for more research ideas. Here’s a recent question – and answer:

How far an officer can make you drive after he pulls you over to the nearest scale?

My Answer: [What do I personally know about trucking, speeding, weigh station laws? Not a thing, but I do know how I would start my research if faced with this question.]

Here’s the answer I gave the person who asked:

Even a legal reference question that seems straightforward may not be, especially when there has been a police traffic stop, so I recommend you speak to someone at the Oregon Department of Transportation, Motor Carrier Transportation Division, or your employer’s legal counsel (or your own if you are the business owner). Either will be able to direct you to the laws that apply in your specific situation. The answer to your question may depend on lots of variables, not just how far you drove.

[I’m tactful, aren’t I? Public librarians don’t really want to know about your lead foot or the way you drive, the finger that you, uh, the texting you were doing while driving, the yield sign you didn’t see, etc. Save those facts for your lawyer – and please be honest with him/her!]

There are a number of contact numbers for the Oregon Department of Transportation. Their main number in Salem is 503- 378-5849 or you can phone one of their regional offices. Other numbers are at the ODOT Motor Carrier Division.If you want to try and research the question yourself, you may visit the county law library nearest you.

You can also start your research in the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS). Use search words like trucks, scales, motor carriers, and others that are used in your business. You will find that, contrary to popular opinion, answers are not contained in the ORS, but the law is.

If you need to consult an attorney, the Oregon State Bar has an Information and Referral Service at 503-684-3763 or look at their web page.

Sometimes consulting an attorney, even on what appears to be a small matter, is the most prudent thing to do, if only to make sure you know all the possible consequences of taking one course of action or another. See my previous post on Traffic Law for more about this.

You can also read the “How to Find a Lawyer In Oregon” guide at the Washington County Law Library web site.

My commons sense, and a lawyer friend, says …there are serious penalties for failure to obey a lawful order of an enforcement officer and a reasonable person probably would not refuse to drive to the scale as directed, even if it were beyond five miles. The basic rule in life and in law is that the mere fact that you are right may not be enough to save you.