Monday, May 6, 2013
Help Me Howard: Truck Addresses
One South Florida business owner says he's had enough. He claims all the regulations and permits are costing him big time. What can he do? Call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Steve Obst: "We pick up used motor oil and we have a water treatment plant we process industrial waste water."
Steve has 50 big trucks picking up the oil and waste water across the state of Florida.
Steve Obst: "Automotive dealerships, lawn motor repair shops, ships, maritime industry power plants, a whole variety of places."
It's a tightly regulated business. Steve has the permits lining the wall. On the trucks he lists the name of his company, the phone number, the department of transportation or DOT number, then throw in stickers he is required to post from various agencies.
Steve Obst: "We got a few stickers."
Patrick Fraser: "And now you have a ticket."
Steve Obst: "And now we have a ticket."
Patrick Fraser: "What is the ticket for?"
Steve Obst: "Not enough stickers."
That's right, one of Steve's drivers got this $200 ticket from Miami-Dade Police.
Steve Obst: "Now they want our physical address on the trucks on top of our name, our phone number, our DOT number and whatever decals they ask us to put on top of the trucks."
Miami-Dade County has a law that says if the physical address is not on the truck, it's a $200 fine."
Steve Obst: "And it's punishable with jail time, are you serious? Yeah."
Patrick Fraser: "So if you decide not to pay it your driver is going to go to jail?"
Steve Obst: "It's totally absurd."
In his business, Steve is used to regulations. But he says common sense says you can't put everything the various agencies want on the side of a big rig.
Steve Obst: "Here is a typical tractor trailer and we have our name, phone number DOT number, DOT inspections. Not much room left to be putting an address. On the passenger side of the truck you have a window all tractor trailers on the right hand have a window. So now by the time you have your name and you phone number, you go this much room. I find it hard to put your address there in three in letters."
Steve wonders why his tractor trailers are required to have the address on the side when UPS trucks don't, Fed-Ex trucks don't, FPL trucks don't. All the trucks pouring out of the Port of Miami don't.
Steve Obst: "So I wrote to some commissioners and called the mayor, called the police department, the police department said, 'Oh we don't write the rules.'"
Steve says as many of his 50 trucks are based in different parts of the state and if other counties require the address like Miami-Dade.
Steve Obst: "I would have to be like an airplane that fly over you and have a banner on back of the truck with all the numbers on there."
Steve has to laugh about an ordinance that is no laughing matter to him.
Steve Obst: "I put a lot of people to work, try hard things are though right now and it has not easy to get slapped with a $200 fine."
Well Howard can the county require so much information that it won't fit on the side of a truck door.
Steve Obst: "Yes, in general the city and county have the power to do that, but not in this case. In fact the Miami-Dade ordinance says commercial vehicles that are registered with the state or federal government and display a DOT number are exempt from the ordinance and don't have to show their address."
I called Miami-Dade Police, the Attorney for Department Ivonne Duran said the law has been around for several years but was changed in 2010 and officers recently began to enforce it.
But as Howard says, some tickets should not have been written.
The ordinance basically says any commercial vehicle with a DOT number does not have to have the address and is not covered by the county ordinance. After she found out what was happening, Ms. Duran asked the department to please void the citation on Steve's truck. Duran also told me that the department had pulled all the citations written with the DOT number on them.
But while it's good news for truckers that have DOT numbers, it's not good for companies that don't have a DOT number. In other words, small mom and pop operations can still be ticketed if they don't have the address. Steve says that's unfair.
Steve Obst: "I would like to see this lifted. I don't see what service this provide to community"
Those trucks that don't transport people or property do not have to have a DOT number. But that means, if they operate out of Miami-Dade County they need the address on the side of the truck. One more thing, the county ordinance says if you don't pay the $200 ticket you can go to jail. That's not true. You can't put someone in jail for not paying a ticket like that, it's a civil matter, not criminal.
Hauling problems around that you would like us to address? You don't need a number or a sticker. Just a phone call. Hopefully we we will post it as DOT, done on time. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser 7News.
Contact Help Me Howard:
Email: email@example.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org