Midland Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit Catches Overlooked Violators

Midland Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit Catches Overlooked Violators

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Commercial vehicle drivers might have been slipping under the radar when it comes to traffic violations but the Midland Police Department wants to make sure that stops. They've developed a commercial vehicle enforcement unit that's on the lookout for violators.

They've been training for over a year, but now they're on their own. The two man unit relieves some of the workload for DPS.  

"When you've got just a handful of troopers covering a very wide area of West Texas, there's not a lot of chance of you getting caught doing the wrong thing. And now the word's out. They know we're out here doing this so I think it changes behavior just knowing that we're doing the enforcement," Officer Ray Miller with the CVE Unit, said.

From July to December of 2013, they wrote up almost 1,300 citations and warnings.

"Those numbers should go up quite a bit now that we're through with all the classroom stuff," Miller said.

But it's not about giving out tickets. Miller said he and partner, Justin Bunch's main goal, is to improve safety on the roads. 

NewsWest 9 rode along with Officer Miller to see exactly how it's done.

"A lot of what we do is driving around, randomly stopping these vehicles and conducting inspections," he said. "Like this guy in front of us, he's not doing anything wrong but if I decided to I could say, let's work him over."

They check everything on vehicles from brakes to lights to making sure the driver hasn't been trekking for so long he's fatigued.  

"On some of the inspections we even crawl under the vehicle, measure brakes, look for air leaks and things like that," Miller said.

There are various kinds of inspections ranging from Level 1 to 3 with Level 1 being the most extensive search.  

"In general if we're doing a level one on a regular day, that's because something has really caught our attention, we think there's a serious safety problem with the vehicle," he said.

Miller said the most common problem is seeing unlicensed drivers or those without the proper permit.

During the ride along, NewsWest 9 set up alongside Highway 80. Miller spotted a semi courting a giant tractor on it's bed.

"He's probably got a permit, but we'll go and ask him anyway," he said.

But during the chase, NewsWest 9 switched gears. Miller pointed out another truck.

"That would probably be a better one to stop. It didn't have any DOT markings on the side, he's got a temporary license plate in the window. He's probably just starting up the company. There's a much better chance, he's got some stuff wrong," he explained.

But it turned out to be clean.

"The driver said he was trading the truck in, which the numbers have to be contrasting. We look for things like that, so technically, it's a violation. But on something like this, we look everything else over and if everything else is in order, we'll send him on his way," he said.

That driver actually thanked Miller saying there need to be more enforcement officers like him to provide safety on the roads from the big trucks.

The next stop was a hit though. The driver had an expired registration and various lighting issues on his truck and trailer.

"He's got some out of service violations, which mean the vehicle's not going to be able to drive away, but we'll take him to a safe location and put him out of service. We won't just strand him here on the side of the road," he said.

The truck followed the officers to the DPS inspection pad where vehicles are lugged to and weighed, and often times remain until their technical infractions are serviced or something is done to clear them. The driver was able to eventually get his light working and drive away. He left with two citations and seven warnings.  

Violators have 15 days to get tickets cleared up with DPS. The officers also go out and give safety talks to companies on helping them get in compliance. They eventually hope to expand the unit.