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undefinedIn commercial trucking, understanding the rules and regulations is paramount. One violation that frequently poses challenges to truckers is the overweight truck issue.

Delving into the Rules & Traffic Code for Overweight Trucks

The CA Vehicle Code (CVC) is explicit about how much weight a single wheel, axle, or group of axles may hold.

The vehicle could be overweight depending on the weight over one tire, the number of axles, the distance between axles, and the overall vehicle weight.  

The gross weight imposed upon the highway by the wheels on any one axle of a vehicle shall not exceed 20,000 pounds and 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.” — CVC Section 35550, Axle Limits.

Likewise, additional information is available in CVC Sections 35550 – 35796, Truck Weights and Caltrans. 

Commercial vehicles with three or more axles are not only evaluated on their overall weight — but also the weight distribution over a single tire, axle, or cluster of axles, as detailed in the chart.

Truck drivers bear the responsibility to ensure the following:

  • Their vehicle complies with the stipulated weight limits before driving it.
  • They acquired Caltrans's necessary oversized vehicle permits before entering California or departing from a shipping yard or port.
  • Periodically checking cargo tie-downs and straps to ensure the cargo has not shifted enroute, causing a single tire or axle violation.

When faced with an overweight truck violation, the fine can be expensive. However, there are serious penalties for grossly overweight rucks. A truck overweight by over 4,500 pounds is subject to a misdemeanor record if convicted.

A commercial traffic ticket defense attorney, equipped with experience and knowledge gathered in the courtroom, can be invaluable. 

They can possibly:

  • Negotiate an infraction for trucks overweight by more than 4,500 pounds. Without expert intervention, driving such a vehicle on CA roads is normally considered a misdemeanor crime.
  • Advocate that while the violation might be illegal, it doesn't quite escalate to the severity of a misdemeanor crime. Many judges consider an overweight truck a wobbler — more than an infraction but not a misdemeanor worthy of a criminal record.

They will, submit all court documents before trial and represent the driver during court proceedings.

But, should a driver be fined for an overweight truck, the fine is typically around $1.00 for every pound overweight. Such fines can be financially devastating, especially for independent truckers or those drivers unsupported by their fleet in settling the penalty.

A conviction for the infraction of an overweight truck could still range between $237 to $4,500. Further, if convicted, the DMV will assess 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points and notify the DOT FMCSA of the moving violation.

The FMCSA will assess compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) severity points and place those on the driver’s pre-employment screening program (PSP) record and the carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) percentile. Also, both could be subject to civil penalties from the DOT.   

Traffic Attorney Tips to Prevent Overweight Truck Tickets

Based on our abundant appearances in traffic court, we recommend that drivers always attempt to ensure compliance with traffic codes and vehicle weights through the following measures:

  • Ensure the shipper weighs the truck and load before leaving the shipping yard or port.
  • Ensure you have the necessary permits for oversized vehicles.
  • Regularly schedule a vehicle weight against traffic codes before entering a new state.
  • Regularly check the load for shifting during transport.
  • Use private weigh stations to measure compliance. Although these are typically $15 or $20, independent truckers might be able to claim the expense on their taxes, but even when it is not tax-deductible, it is much cheaper than a fine for an overweight truck.

In summary, the complexities of the overweight truck regulations in California need not be intimidating. 

Truckers can navigate the legal system safely and efficiently with the right knowledge and experienced guidance. We are dedicated to ensuring every driver is empowered, informed, and confident in addressing such challenges without being overwhelmed by legal intricacies. 

Consult with Bigger & Harman Help with an Overweight Truck Ticket in Woodland, CA

Consult with Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300 if you need help with an overweight truck ticket. Use our user-friendly contact form or email

We can resolve your overweight truck charge, typically without your attendance in court. We always provide a free, no-obligation consult—even through email or phone. Our legal services are always provided using a flat fee, so you know how much it will cost before you agree to hire us.

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

CVC Section 35550Axle Limits & Sections 35550 – 35796, Truck Weights

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