When you’re rolling across I-80 headed for the Bay Area, be sure to weigh your truck in Nevada and get a CA permit before crossing the border. Otherwise, you could get popped with an overweight truck in a roadside inspection at the Donner Pass Weigh Station.
The official name is the “California Highway Patrol (CHP) Donner Pass Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility (CVEF).” But most truckers just call it the Truckee Chicken Coop. Unless you have a bypass sticker, you need to pull in whenever it’s open. Don’t even think about going by; the CHP will follow you, pull you over, and bring you back. Then, they will crawl up under your truck with a magnifying glass and a notebook that they will fill with violations.
It doesn’t matter how inspection-ready your commercial vehicle is; the CVSA-trained CHP will probably find violations if you make them come out of the warm office and chase you down. This weigh station is not far from the CA-Nevada border in Nevada County, CA.
The Weight on a Single Wheel Can Get You an Overweight Truck Ticket
It’s true, CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Sections 35550 – 35558, Axle Limits states, “…the gross weight upon any one wheel, or wheels, supporting one end of an axle, and resting upon the roadway, shall not exceed 10,500 pounds.” Therefore, the driver must insist that the shipping company check the weight over each wheel. They are bound by law to do so. However, once you drive away from the shipping yard, it is on you.
If you check at the first scale outside the shipping yard and it is over, you can go back and make them correct it. You shouldn’t accept an overweight truck that could get you a ticket at a roadside inspection anywhere along your route. When you cannot break down the load, you must get a permit for each state you will travel through where it will be overweight.
The Same Is True for Axle Weight at a Roadside Inspection
As prescribed by CVC Section 35551, Axle Weights, the amount of weight on each axle will depend on the “…distance in feet between the extremes of any group of 2 or more consecutive axles.” The driver must remember that the State of CA rounds up or down at the .5 foot mark. Accordingly, a set of axles spanning eight feet five inches can hold 34,000 pounds, but if the span encompasses eight feet six inches, it can hold 39,000. “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 68,000 pounds.”
One inch can make a 5,000-pound difference. Thus, if you rounded up and the CHP at the roadside inspection rounds down, you could have a $5,000 difference in perspective. Typically, in CA counties, including Nevada County, the fines, fees, surcharges, and penalties work out to $1.00 per pound if convicted.
Imagine the poor driver coming from Iowa on I-80 going to the Bay area who gets stopped at the Truckee, CA roadside inspection and drives away with a $5,000 overweight truck ticket. Well, of course, he’ll have to do something about the extra 5,000 pounds before he can roll out of the chicken coop.
Bigger & Harman, APC, Provide Legal Assistance to Truckers in Truckee, CA
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
Although our office is in Bakersfield, we are licensed to practice law across CA. We will “go the distance” to provide truckers and trucking firms with the representation they need for the best possible resolution of traffic tickets and DMV NOTS hearing.
As a commercial driver, when you get notified of a pending driver’s license suspension, give us a call. We have often received leeway for truckers due to their additional risk from driving 60 or 70 hours per week.
The 2019-2021 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf
CVC Sections 35550 – 35558, Axle Limits