There are roughly 25,000 people in Dickinson, N.D. and one of them is a police officer who so far this year has issued $83,000 in fines to overweight trucks.
In May 2015, Officer Tim Jokerst was hired to serve as the city’s only truck regulatory enforcement officer. Truck traffic has picked up in the town, which is located about 300 miles west of Fargo along Interstate 94.
Weight infractions for trucks are mostly issued by state and federal agencies. However, some cities issue tickets of their own. Dickinson city officials point to roads that they say have been damaged by overweight trucks. Fines collected through weight violations issued by the city are used to repair the roads, according to wday.com.
Jokerst carries portable scales which he uses to weigh the trucks. He looks for signs of heavy loads like misshapen tires, sagging suspension, heavy equipment and slow rolling starts. Overweight trucks are impounded, unless a driver pays for the ticket on the spot.
Construction on a wind farm south of Dickinson has increased truck traffic through the town. Truckers can apply and receive permits to run overweight loads, but they must apply with the state and the City of Dickinson if they plan on traveling through the town. Many truckers overlook the online permit process or apply incorrectly.
Fines can be steep and start at $20 for every 1,000 pounds that a vehicle is overweight. That amount doubles once the load is found to be over 10,000 pounds the legal limit. Trucks that have met certain axle and length requirements can carry up to 105,500 pounds before requiring a permit.
Jokerst views his job as playing an important role in protecting the city.
“The reason that I have a job and that I do this job is to protect the city of Dickinson’s roads and the state of North Dakota’s highways,” Jokerst told wday.com. “So if it wasn’t for me, we’d have millions and millions of dollars of road damage every year from trucks driving as heavy as they want to, wherever they want to in the city of Dickinson.”