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Who's Responsible for an Overweight Violation?

For a California trucker, it’s wise to research who is responsible for what charges or anyone accepting responsibility to transport another person’s goods. This is especially true for weight limits, that can get the driver hit with an overweight violation and a hefty fine even if they had no part in the loading. Fleet management can take the responsibility by filing a CHP Form.

Who Must Pay the Fine?

In CA, this responsibility falls solely on the trucker. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that their truck and trailer meets all safety standards, including weight limit. If the driver does get an overweight violation, they can attempt to hold the company responsible, especially if the trucker had no part in loading the truck, but this will often involve legal action if the company doesn’t agree to cover the cost.

When you look at the fines for an overweight violation, it usually works out to about $1.00 a pound overweight after a certain point. So, if you are 10,000 pounds overweight, your fine could be $10,000 if convicted. Your best chance to avoid those kinds of fines is to hire a traffic ticket lawyer.

The best method for a trucker to avoid an overweight violation when they had nothing to do with loading the vehicles is to get the owner to accept responsibility in writing. The California Highway Patrol has an “Owner’s Responsibility” form, CHP Form 279, which the driver can have the owner sign and carry it with the driver, then when the driver has nothing to do with the loading, he is not liable for the fine and the CHP will send the owner the ticket.

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 35551 & Axle Limits

California Vehicle Code Section 35551 requires a specific amount of distance between the farthest axles on the vehicle that determines the limit on the gross weight, which will fall between 34,000 and 80,000 pounds. Moreover, in combination with the weights limits, two successive “sets of tandem axles” can transport “a gross weight of 34,000 pounds” when the total distance between axles that sit farthest apart on “the consecutive sets of tandem axles equals 36 feet or more. The gross weight of each set of tandem axles shall not exceed 34,000 pounds and the gross weight of the two consecutive sets of tandem axles shall not exceed a total of 68,000 pounds.”

What Is Meant by Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)

The GVW is the grand total of the weight of the entire vehicle. This is also known as the “curbside weight” and includes the vehicle, the cargo, and the passengers. The GVW also includes fuel weight, engine fluids, and accessories as well.

It’s critical that the driver weighs the truck and trailer before getting on the road to avoid getting an overweight violation. It may also be wise to discuss beforehand with the company what they are willing to take responsibility for and under what circumstances. Some companies also keep an "owner’s responsibility" form filed with the CHP that outlines when they are responsible for an overweight violation, then the overweight violation ticket is mailed to the owner or fleet management.

It should be noted here that any company that tells a trucker to haul an overweight load or be fired is doing so illegally and should be reported. It is, however, understandable that some truckers will not do that in fear of losing their jobs, but they better hope they have enough money to cover the fines for an overweight violation and there’s always criminal and civil responsibility if the brakes fail because of an overweight load. It’s better to just run legal and look for another trucking company.

Hire a Bakersfield, Kern County Attorney

When you are looking at thousands of dollars in fines and the possibility of unemployment, particularly when you had nothing to do with the loading of the vehicle, you need to consult with a Kern County traffic ticket attorney. And, the best legal team if you are scheduled to appear in court for an overweight violation in Bakersfield, Shafter, Lamont, Delano or any Central Valley court is Bigger & Harman. You will receive a free, no obligation phone consultation. Bigger & Harman are traffic ticket defenders who have offices throughout Central Valley and a few SoCal locations, such as Los Angeles, Riverside, SLO, and San Bernardino.

Although their main office is in Kern County, they represent traffic ticket clients in Hanford, Barstow, Santa Clarita, LA, Fresno, Porterville, Independence and many more. Bigger & Harman have a good reputation with the judges, court clerks, and law enforcement as tough courtroom lawyers, but more importantly with their clients, which includes many of the truckers who haul our country’s manufactured and agricultural goods to market.

Call Bigger & Harman, 661-349-9300 to discuss your situation or email: attorney@markbigger.com

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