State v. Krahwinkel

Decision Date23 December 2002
Docket NumberNo. 22335.,22335.
Citation656 N.W.2d 451,2002 SD 160
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Anthony K. KRAHWINKEL, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court

Mark Barnett, Attorney General, Jason A. Glodt, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.

Ronald G. Schmidt, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorney for defendant and appellant.


[¶ 1.] Anthony Krahwinkel was convicted of violating South Dakota's overweight motor vehicle statutes and was assessed double civil penalties. He appeals on several issues, challenging the constitutionality and applicability of the provisions of SDCL ch 32-22. He also appeals his conviction for violating SDCL 32-22-57.1, by having a lift axle pressure control device located inside the cab of his vehicle. We affirm.


[¶ 2.] On February 12, 2000, Anthony Krahwinkel was driving a 1994 Mack truck-tractor registered in Montana in combination with a Sieb trailer registered in Wyoming. The trailer was loaded with a Kamatsk excavator. Soon after pulling off U.S. 14A onto Interstate 90, Krahwinkel was stopped by Motor Carrier Enforcement Officer Larry Bryant near milepost 31 in Meade County. Officer Bryant directed Krahwinkel to proceed to the Sturgis Department of Transportation to weigh the tractor-trailer combination, using portable Haenni wheel load scales.

[¶ 3.] Before the weighing, the scales had been properly tested and certified. Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer combination had eight axles.1 The individual axle weights were as follows:

Axle 1 10,900 pounds Axle 2 7,900 pounds Axle 3 33,500 pounds Axle 4 39,000 pounds Axle 5 18,700 pounds Axle 6 19,000 pounds Axle 7 18,700 pounds Axle 8 18,700 pounds

The gross weight of Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer was 166,400 pounds.

[¶ 4.] To determine the legality of Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer gross weight, Officer Bryant applied the overweight formula, commonly known as the "bridge formula," codified in SDCL 32-22-16.1. The bridge formula is found in Title 23 of the United States Code § 127, which sets the allowable vehicle weights on the Interstate highways. South Dakota's Interstate highway funds are contingent upon the enforcement of the weight limits set forth in the United States Code. 23 USC § 127. The bridge formula was designed to protect bridges from catastrophic overloads by restricting the weight of each of a vehicle's axle groupings and by limiting vehicle gross weight. The Motor Carrier handbook summarizes SDCL 32-22-16.1 and includes a reference table, which permits operators to calculate the maximum gross weight allowable, without having to actually solve the formula codified in the statute.

[¶ 5.] The bridge formula restricts the gross weight of a vehicle traveling on the Interstate Highway System to 80,000 pounds. This gross weight limitation is codified in both SDCL 32-22-16(3) and 23 USC § 127. Although South Dakota claims "grandfather" rights and may supersede the 80,000 pound limitation, it cannot permit vehicles to exceed the maximum gross weight allowed under the bridge formula.

[¶ 6.] To compute the maximum allowable gross weight under the bridge formula, Officer Bryant measured the distance between Axles 1 and 8 which totaled 87 feet and counted the number of axles (eight) on Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer. Under the bridge formula, the maximum gross weight for a vehicle with eight axles with 87 feet between the foremost axle and the rearmost axle is 115,500 pounds. Since the actual weight of Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer was 166,400 pounds, the vehicle was 50,900 pounds over the legal gross weight limit allowed by South Dakota law. Officer Bryant cited Krahwinkel for a gross weight violation of 50,900 pounds under SDCL 32-22-16.

[¶ 7.] Although Krahwinkel did not have the proper overweight permit which would have allowed him to carry the maximum allowable load (115,500 pounds) under the bridge formula, Officer Bryant chose not to use 80,000 pounds as a base weight.2 Instead, he used the bridge formula to determine the maximum allowable weight that Krahwinkel's vehicle could have been permitted to carry (115,500 pounds). Officer Bryant could have ignored the bridge formula and just issued a gross overweight violation using the base weight of 80,000 pounds. Under those circumstances, Krahwinkel could have been cited for having 86,400 pounds over the weight limit rather than 50,900 pounds.

[¶ 8.] Under SDCL 32-22-55, Krahwinkel was penalized 37.5 cents per pound for 50,900 pounds for a total of $19,087. In addition, the penalty was doubled in accord with SDCL 32-22-56.3 In sum, Krahwinkel was penalized $38,175 in addition to an initial fine of $133.

[¶ 9.] In addition to the SDCL 32-22-16.1 violation, Krahwinkel was cited under SDCL 32-22-57.1 for having a lift axle pressure control device located inside the cab of his vehicle. Krahwinkel testified that the location of the pressure control device for the variable load lift axle in the tractor-cab is legal in Montana, where the truck is licensed and registered. He further stated that the pressure control setting for the variable load lift axle was approximately thirty pounds. He explained, however, that with such high pressure on the lift axle, the truck frame could possibly break the motor mount. Therefore, it was necessary to reduce the pressure or raise the lift axle before making a turn. Accordingly, Krahwinkel reduced the pressure on the lift axle to approximately five pounds before he turned into the Sturgis Department of Transportation yard. There, Officer Bryant ordered Krahwinkel not to make any changes. Thus, the lift axle pressure was left at about five pounds.4

[¶ 10.] The purpose of the pressurized lift axle is to spread the weight of the load over the additional axles and pneumatic tires. At approximately thirty pounds of pressure, the weight on Axles 2, 3, and 4 of Krahwinkel's tractor-trailer combination should be approximately the same. Axle 2, the variable lift axle, only weighed 7,900 pounds. However, the other two axles in the group, Axles 3 and 4, weighed 33,500 pounds and 39,000 pounds, respectively.

[¶ 11.] The circuit court found Krahwinkel guilty of violating SDCL 32-22-16 and 32-22-16.1, and in accordance with SDCL 32-22-55 and -56 imposed a penalty of $38,175 plus a fine of $100 and costs of $33 for the gross overweight violation on the whole vehicle based on the cumulative weights of Axles 1 through 8.5 Further, the circuit court found Krahwinkel guilty of violating SDCL 32-22-57.1, concerning the lift axle control device and imposed a fine of $100 and costs of $33.

[¶ 12.] Krahwinkel appeals these penalties, fines, and costs. He raises the following issues on appeal: (1) "Whether the State erroneously charged Krahwinkel for a `gross weight' violation of § 32-22-16(3) based on the whole vehicle (i.e., the cumulative weight of all eight axles on the vehicle) as opposed to a `group' of axles constituting an overweight part of the whole vehicle." (2) "Whether the overweight provisions of SDCL ch 32-22 are facially unconstitutional because of unequal penalties for identical violations contrary to Art. VI, § 18 of the South Dakota Constitution, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution." (3) "Whether due to changed circumstances since this Court's divided opinion in State v. Feiok, 364 N.W.2d 536 (S.D.1985), §§ 32-22-55 and -56 must be deemed so punitive either in purpose, or in effect as to negate the Legislature's intention to impose purely a civil penalty in light of a $38,175 civil fine and other factors not considered by this Court in its previous decision." (4) "A fine/penalty of $38,175 for a single Class 2 misdemeanor violation is so grossly excessive, and/or manifestly disproportionate to the crime as violative of the due process prohibition against the taking of property under South Dakota Constitution Art. VI, § 2, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and/or additionally, contrary to the prohibition against excessive fines in South Dakota Constitution Art. VI, § 23 and the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States." (5) "Chapter 32-22 overweight provisions are facially unconstitutional as violative of the void-for-vagueness and/or overbreadth doctrines of due process embodied in South Dakota Constitution Art. VI, § 2 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." (6) "Whether the double penalty provisions of § 32-22-56 are applicable." (7) "Whether the Circuit Court erred in finding Krahwinkel guilty of violating§ 32-22-57.1 for having the lift axle control in the cab of the truck as a matter of statutory construction since the statute expressly applies only to vehicles `registered in South Dakota' in light of Krahwinkel's vehicle being registered in Montana."

Standard of Review

[¶ 13.] We examine statutory construction and constitutional challenges de novo. State v. Barton, 2001 SD 52, ¶ 8, 625 N.W.2d 275, 278. The primary purpose of statutory construction is to ascertain the intent of the law. Id. Intent is ordinarily found by examining the express language of the statute. Faircloth v. Raven Industries, Inc., 2000 SD 158, ¶ 6, 620 N.W.2d 198, 201. We therefore defer to the text where possible. Id. We read statutes as a whole along with the enactments relating to the same subject. Kayser v. South Dakota State Elec. Comm'n, 512 N.W.2d 746, 747 (S.D.1994) (citations omitted). We assume that the Legislature intended that no part of its statutory scheme be rendered mere surplusage. Nat'l Farmers Union Prop. and Cas. Co. v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 534 N.W.2d 63, 65 (S.D.1995) (citing Revier v. School Bd. of Sioux Falls, 300 N.W.2d 55, 57 (S.D.1980)); 2A Norman J. Singer, Sutherland Statutory Construction § 46.07, 205 (6th ed 2000)....

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