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History of Iowa motor vehicle enforcement

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In 1941, engineers of the Iowa State Highway Commission became concerned with the increasing number of overweight trucks that would, over time, contribute greatly to a gradual destruction of Iowa highways. A decision was made to pursue legislation for the highway commission to designate certain employees as peace officers to enforce violations regarding weight and size. On April 16, 1941, such a proposal was signed into law by Governor Wilson, and on July 1 of that same year the traffic weight officer of the highway commission became reality.

The Iowa Department of Transportation was formed by an act of the Iowa Legislature effective July 1, 1975. Officers of the Iowa Commerce Commission, traffic weight officers of the highway commission, and the motor vehicle investigators from the Iowa Department of Public Safety were combined as the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement.

Responsibilities of the uniformed officer continued to include enforcement of the laws relating to size, weight, registration and authority. Responsibilities of the investigators included enforcement of the laws relating to vehicle registration, dealer licensing and motor vehicle inspection. All officers and investigators are required to successfully complete the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy's basic training requirements.

From the early 1980s to the present additional duties have been added to the uniformed officer's existing responsibilities, including Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, hazardous materials regulations, and the use of untaxed fuel. Investigators have taken on odometer tampering, driver license fraud, use tax investigations and salvage theft examinations.

Modern technology, including weigh-in-motion, portable scales, weapons, preliminary breath testers, pen-based computers and mobile data transmission capabilities in the patrol cars have been added to enhance the motor vehicle officer position.

Training, including the North American Standard Inspection class, hazardous materials and cargo tank courses, firearms training, self-defense classes, and a 14-week field training officer program for new officers, has added to the professionalism of the office.

In 1993, two new weigh stations were opened in Dallas and Jasper counties. These facilities include the latest in technology with computerized work stations, in-line ramp weigh-in-motion technology, and license plate readers. In 2000, a new state-of-the-art mainline weigh-in-motion scale was opened in Fremont County.

The Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement includes 130 officers and investigators dedicated to highway safety.