As a trucker, you need to pack as much freight into each load as possible. The same thing applies to moving vans and other short-haul vehicles. But the state is afraid that overweight trucks may cause excessive wear and tear on the roads or be a danger to the public. So California Vehicle Code Section 4000 sets very strict weight limits for commercial vehicles.
The fines vary depending on the vehicle's weight, from as little as $250 to as much as $2,000. The assessments and court costs can easily quadruple the actual price of the ticket.
What the prosecutor must prove
There are two elements to a Section 4000 citation. Obviously, the state must prove that the vehicle was overweight. The proof must match the pleadings: if the state can only prove that the vehicle was 498 pounds overweight, a ticket for a larger or smaller weight violation may be thrown out. The state must also prove that the vehicle's empty weight is over 10,000 pounds.
Contesting an overweight ticket can be much like contesting a speeding ticket. Bakersfield-area courts are very familiar with truck weighing procedures, especially along Interstate 5, and an argument that the scales had not been checked or that the officer did not weigh the truck can sometimes sway a judge to make a good finding for the defense. A related argument is that the truck was under the limit when it left the warehouse, and the load shifted to the back during transport.
Many smaller trucks may weigh less than 10,000 pounds when completely empty, so a Section 4000 ticket is totally inapplicable to these vehicles.