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undefinedMany novice drivers don’t realize how expensive extremely overweight truck fines can be or that they can be branded a criminal when their commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is more than 4,501 pounds overweight. 

Most slightly overweight trucks or those with too much weight over one tire or axle will only pay $238 for an infraction. However, when a driver neglects to check the truck or container’s weight before leaving the shipping dock, it could cost them tens of thousands of dollars and a misdemeanor record. 

Yes, you could spend time in county jail and pay extremely overweight truck fines for a grossly overweight truck. Let’s look at how to avoid that.  

The Weigh Station at Truckee, CA on I-80 on the Donner Pass & Axle Weights 

Believe it or not, nearly every state has different truck weight requirements. CA requires that the driver or fleet procure the permits for an oversized load that cannot be broken down before entering the state. What was good in Nevada might not pass in CA.

Normally, a CMV has between two and six axles, so the more axles they have, the more weight they can bear. CA Vehicle Code (VC) Section 35551Axle Limits, requires the cargo weight to be spread across the truck’s axles.  

The driver should reference that VC to determine the max vehicle weight between axles.

Generally, a truck with two axles can transport up to 40,000 pounds, three axles up to 60,000 pounds, and between four and six axles up to 80,000 pounds. As stated above, some permits are allowed by Caltrans for oversized vehicles. Of course, tandem axles can carry more weight.

Moreover, loads shift in transit and should be checked periodically. Having too much weight over one tire, an axle, or a group of axles can be as dangerous as having an overweight truck, especially when that excess weight is over one tire rather than spread across axles.

When you’re pulled into the Truckee, CA, weight station with an overweight truck, the CHP inspectors will issue a citation for an overweight truck. However, if the vehicle is overweight passed a reasonable standard, the trucker must shift the cargo before continuing.

This can cause delays in deliveries and missed deadlines.  

How Much Are These Extremely Overweight Truck Fines?

The average fine for slightly overweight trucks is around $500, but for grossly overweight trucks, the fine could be as much as $1.00 per pound if your truck is overweight. Imagine a fine of $5,000 to $10,000 for being overweight.  

If the driver is unsure, they should pull into a private weight station in Nevada or Arizona before entering CA.

If your vehicle is more than 4,500 pounds overweight, you could face up to six months in county jail in addition to the fine. 

Consult a CA traffic attorney to discuss a defense strategy when charged with an overweight truck.

However, many traffic court judges consider an overweight truck a “wobbler” or an illegal activity between an infraction and a misdemeanor. Therefore, an experienced and knowledgeable traffic attorney can negotiate a reduced charge.

“A misdemeanor is a type of offense punishable under criminal law. A misdemeanor is typically a crime punishable by less than 12 months in jail.” — Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute (LII) WEX Definitions: Misdemeanor.   

Typically, a traffic court judge wants to give a commercial driver the benefit of the doubt, and all they need is someone to ask and submit the proper documentation. Most judges don’t want to send a driver to jail for doing their job or bankrupt an independent trucker.

Consult Bigger & Harman About an Overweight Truck to Possibly Avoid Extremely Overweight Truck Fines & Damage to Your Reputation 

When you face a charge for an overweight vehicle, you need legal assistance to overcome the possible extremely overweight truck fines and possibly jail time. 

We at Bigger & Harman CA traffic law firm understand the struggles faced by commercial drivers and offer a free, no-obligation consultation — even by phone or email.  

Call Bigger & Harman, APC, at (661) 349-9300 — use our contact form to send a picture of your ticket/violation or email

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

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


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

CA VC Section 35551Axle Limits.

Cornell Law School LII WEX Definitions: Misdemeanor.

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