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Caught with an Overweight Truck on I-5 in Truckee

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Transporting cargo in an overweight or overwide truck on California’s highways without the correct permits can result in severe fines and in some cases, a criminal record. Plus, it is a misdemeanor not to stop at a weigh station when required. According to Section 2813 of the CA Vehicle Code (CVC), a driver who fails to stop, “when signs are displayed requiring that stop is guilty of a misdemeanor.”  While the charge can be reduced to an infraction by agreement, the original charge means a criminal record. 

How the “Weight-Watchers” Get You

This scenario is just an illustration. Don’t let this happen to you. There you were driving west on I-80 up in the Donner Pass, elevation about 7000 feet, heading toward the loading dock at Oakland Port and some much-deserved downtime. To be more exact, the unloading dock, and therein lies the problem. 

The “chicken coop” or weight station was open, so you dutifully pull on in for inspection. You’re not worried because your paperwork is in order;  you conducted the daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) from bumper-to-bumper; you have the last seven days of logs printed and in the folder as of last night; and your e-log is up to date as of your 30-minute mandatory break, less than an hour ago.

What you didn’t count on or even know, was that you were hauling 39,000 pounds and the distance between axles was eight feet, five inches. In CA, the CHP who runs the coop rounds up or down at six inches. According to CVC 35551Axle Limits,the gross weight cannot exceed 34,000 pounds when the distance between two or more axles is eight feet. 

The difference of one inch could cost $5,000 and a criminal record. The distinction is an infraction is up to 4500 pounds and a misdemeanor at 4501 pounds or more overweight. If this happens to you, you need to break off the conversation with the CHP and request a lawyer. That CHP officer just went from a “friendly” inspector to a witness at your trial, and “what you say can and will be used against you.”

Avoiding an Overwide or Overweight Truck

When driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) across CA, you must ensure everything about your CMV is within the legal limits for the state, or you have a permit to exempt your truck. Fleet management generally ensures the driver has permits for each state they will travel through, but owner-operators must get their own, or get an agency to handle their administrative duties. For more information or to apply for a one-time or annual ticket you can go to the Caltrans site

CVC Sections 35550 - 35796 define what  are oversized or overweight trucks. Likewise, “for every rule there is an exception.” However, you must get a permit that states your truck is exempt or face the penalty. Remember, the primary “test” of eligibility for an oversized permit is that the cargo cannot be reducible. 

A conviction for an overweight truck in Truckee, Nevada County, and in fact, across California, will cost roughly $1.00 per pound for each pound overweight. Regardless of who loaded the truck, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure compliance or obtain permits. Even when the carrier accepts responsibility and volunteers to pay the fine, they cannot take your misdemeanor record. You must consult with and hire a CDL traffic lawyer to mount a defense. 

Traffic Lawyers Who Regularly Handle Tickets Out of Truckee, CA

When you get stopped at a roadside inspection or get a traffic ticket for an overweight truck, you need to consult a criminal defense attorney with knowledge and experience handling trucking violations.  To consult with criminal defense attorneys who practice traffic law, call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. 

We have successfully defended thousands of drivers in California, and a large percentage of those were truckers and other CDL holders. We practice only traffic law and charge one price, no matter how many times we need to appear in court or how many hours we spend on resolving your case. 

Send us an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.