Avoiding Overweight Trucks
If you are driving a commercial vehicle in California, you might have rubbed shoulders with the law due to the weight of your truck. Trucks are a major cause of road destruction due to their weight, and better distribution of weight reduces that destruction. That is why in California, as in every state, there are laws which guide drivers on how much their truck can weigh and what is an overweight truck. The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is what is used to determine an overweight truck; this includes the driver, passenger, truck or bus, and its cargo. This applies to individual states and the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT), who regulate state and interstate transportation.
Avoiding getting ticketed for an overweight truck that could cost you $1.00 per pound for every pound over the limit, could be as easy as weighing the truck before you leave the loading yard, and checking the manifest for the weight of the cargo. Or, if there are no scales at the loading platform, pull into a public weigh station as close to the loading station as possible. There are several public weigh stations around Los Angeles, Long Beach, and the Central Valley. They will charge you a fee, but chances are it will be a lot cheaper than a ticket from CHPs.
At the Federal level, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administers the program. In California, CALTRANS regulates it, though the CA Highway Patrol (CHP) manages the safety and weight tests at weighing stations along the state’s freeways.
The FMCSA and Special Permits
The FMCSA limit is 80,000 pounds, and individual states cannot amend that to a higher ceiling. However, special permits can be authorized for specific cargo. Most often it is cargo that cannot be broken down into smaller or lighter loads, such as mobile homes or steel beams. These permits are issued only for that specific trip and expire when the trip is finished. Trucks and other commercial vehicles on Interstate highways such as I-5, 10, 15, etc. must adhere to the Federal standard.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA)
Speaking of CHPs, when you go through an inspection at one of the weighing stations run by CHPs, make sure they put a CVSA sticker on your vehicle before you pull away so that officers at other stations will know you have already passed inspections elsewhere and what date, so they will just wave you through.
Remember that CHP officers manning the weigh stations along the highway round up or down to determine the weight on each axle or pair of axles, so don’t push the limits. The round down because of a couple of inches could cost you an expensive ticket. Here’s how. Eight and one-half feet is rounded up to 9 feet, so you’re legal for 42,000 pounds. But, eight feet and five inches are rounded down to eight, so you’re only legal for 34,000 pounds a difference of 8,000 pounds.
Exceptions to CA Vehicle Code 35550-35558, Axle Limits
Many drivers don’t realize that even rental trucks used to move your household belongings or freight to market are subject to a safety inspection and the weighing scales. However, there are exceptions, such as the following:
· Bulk grains and other animal feed trucks
· Cement or mix trucks
· Tank trucks with a 1500-gallon capacity
· Fire trucks
· And, some others (see CVC 35551 for specifics)
Therefore, if you are driving a commercial truck and you don’t have a CVSA sticker, make sure to stop at the weighing station.
Consult a Central Valley Ticket Attorney
For most truckers, it is common knowledge if you have a ticket for an overweight truck or any traffic violation as a CDL holder, you need to consult a traffic ticket attorney. Call Bigger & Harman for a free consultation, 661-349-9300, or send an email: email@example.com. Se habla Español 661.349.9755.
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