State Cracks Down on Truckers Using Wrong Fuel

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- They're part of the delivery system that makes the world go round. Trucks pack the interstates, bringing goods and commerce across the country, but the high cost of diesel leaves drivers frustrated.

Truckers like Pennsylvania resident Bob Wargo have their companies picking up the tab, but for smaller businesses, the prices can be devastating.

"They close themselves up, and they sell their trucks. Even a couple big businesses closed up," Wargo explained.

So how do you beat the high prices?

A few truckers switch the expensive stuff with off-road diesel -- a cheaper fuel for farms and equipment. The problem is that illegal users are dodging state and Federal fuel taxes -- money collected to maintain highways.

"If you're able to buy gasoline without paying the Federal tax or the state tax, that's a substantial difference," explained Charles Crumbley of the Alabama Department of Revenue.

Now, officers are out in force at mandatory checkpoints, testing fuel to see if truckers are breaking the law.

"There are people taking the risk and, of course, with us out there looking, their risk is even greater," said Officer David Briggs, a revenue enforcement officer.

Briggs says the legal types of fuel run a range of colors. If inspectors do find a red tinted, off-road diesel in your tank, however, an attempt to save a little cash could cost motorists way more than they bargained for.

"The state penalty is $1,000.  We also take an additional sample for the IRS and ship it to them, and the IRS charges them $1,000," Crumbley said.

Those are stiff fines truckers say simply aren't worth the risk.

"You're better off just to pay the extra money getting on-road fuel in the long run.  You'll be paying a lot more with that off road [stuff]," Wargo said.

Reporter: Cody Holyoke