Price, Gaulkin and Sullivan. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, J.A.D.
Defendant-appellant, Johnson Lumber Co., Inc. was convicted in the Municipal Court of Brick Township of improper use of "in-transit" plates contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:4-30, and operating a trailer "over legal dimensions" contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:3-84. On appeal to the Ocean County Court and trial de novo , defendant was again found guilty of the same offenses. Hence the present appeal.
The facts are undisputed. Defendant is in the construction business and, on the date involved, was the owner of a low-bed trailer which was being drawn by a vehicle operated by defendant's agent over a road in Brick Township. Loaded on the trailer was a "Back Hoe," an excavating machine used in road building with tractor (steel) treads. The equipment was moving to a construction site. The trailer was over the maximum legal dimensions fixed by N.J.S.A. 39:3-84 and displayed, as its registration license
plate, an "in-transit" license plate issued pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-30.
Consideration of the issues involved requires discussion of the history of legislation regulating the movement of road building machinery, vehicles or other apparatus or machinery of unusual weight or size along or over public roads or highways.
P.L. 1927, c. 150, was the first act specifically regulating the use of public roads, streets and highways by such equipment. Section 1 of the act authorized the movement of such equipment over public roads or highways, "on trailers," provided that certain weight distribution requirements were met, and upon obtaining a permit from the county supervisor or the supervisor of roads of the county or counties traversed. Section 4 of the act excepted from its application all such equipment running on railroad or street railway tracks as well as all such equipment while actually used in road construction work. In 1928 (P.L. 1928, c. 113), section 1 of the act was amended to provide also that "said trailers" were to be registered with the Commissioner (now Director) of Motor Vehicles and a registration fee of $150 paid. The statutory revision of 1937 codified P.L. 1927, c. 150, section 1 as amended, into R.S. 39:4-26; and section 4, into R.S. 39:4-30.
In 1941 (P.L. 1941, c. 257) the Legislature amended R.S. 39:4-30 to provide that in addition to the foregoing exceptions to the requirements of R.S. 39:4-26 any such road building machinery, etc. could be "operated or drawn" over a public road or highway subject to the following conditions:
"Any person, partnership or corporation may, with regard to such road building machinery, vehicle, traction engine, roller or other apparatus or machinery of the kind owned or controlled by it, obtain general registration and registration plates therefor of the style and kind provided for in this article, with the word 'temporary' or 'in-transit' stated thereon, but only if the commissioner is satisfied as to the financial responsibility of such person, partnership or corporation to meet any claim for damages arising
out of an accident and satisfactory evidence of such responsibility has been filed with him.
The annual fee for the issuance of a certificate of registration, or duplicates thereof and five sets of 'temporary' or 'in-transit' plates bearing a number, corresponding to the number on the certificate of registration shall be twenty-five dollars ($25.00).
Such plates can be placed on any such road building machinery, vehicle, traction engine, roller or other apparatus or machinery, owned or operated by the person, partnership or corporation to whom the registration is issued, only in moving to and from the location ...