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Driver of overweight big rig nabbed in Vermont

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A trucker carrying part of a giant crane to a state bridge job had too much weight on his rig and too much alcohol in his system, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said Friday.

DMV personnel at a weigh-in station on Interstate 89 northbound in Colchester said they found the truck had a gross weight of nearly 154,000 pounds when it was permitted for only 148,000. The rig was on its way to a project in which contractors for the state Agency of Transportation are replacing the northbound and southbound bridges on I-89 over the Lamoille River in Milton.

Any truck weighing more than 80,000 pounds requires a special permit to travel on Vermont's highways. A superload like the one involved in this case required an engineering study to ensure it wouldn't harm the state's infrastructure but didn't have it, officials said.

DMV inspector John Federico said that while speaking with the driver, Richard Charles Thompson, he detected the smell of "intoxicants" on Thompson, the DMV said in a statement.

A preliminary breath test during the Wednesday morning stop found Thompson, of Delaware City, Delaware, had a blood-alcohol count above 0.04, the limit for commercial truck drivers, authorities said. Thompson "advised he had consumed beers the previous evening and stopped drinking at about 2 a.m.," the DMV said.

A later test at the Colchester police station found Thompson below the 0.04 limit, but the DMV said it had "sufficient evidence to relate back impairment during the time of operation."

Thompson faces a civil fine of $784, and the truck's owner, Philadelphia-based Elliott-Lewis Corp., will be fined more than $13,000, the DMV said.

A working phone number could not be found for Thompson in Delaware City.

Elliott-Lewis owner Robert Sautter said Thompson had lost his job as a result of what happened.

"The driver has definitely made some serious mistakes, and he is no longer employed here," Sautter said.

He called the fine for the oversized load "excessive" and said the company probably would appeal it.

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