California set strict limits on the amount of weight that commercial drivers are allowed to haul. These weight limits are generally based on the number of axles a truck has and the way these axles are laid out.
Drivers that exceed these limits may face charges under California Vehicle Code Section 35551(a): Overweight Vehicle. Learn more about weight limits on commercial vehicles and the penalties for overweight vehicles with the Simmrin Law Group.
Weight Limits for Commercial Vehicles in California
Generally, commercial vehicles may have between 2 and 6 axles. These axles may be spread out along the length of the vehicle, with up to 60 feet between first and last set of axles. In most cases, vehicles with more axles can carry more weight.
Based on the number of axles a truck has, the upper limits for the maximum weight in pounds can include:
- 2 Axles: Up to 40,000 lbs
- 3 Axles: Up to 60,000 lbs
- 4 – 6 Axles: Up to 80,000 lbs
Commercial vehicles that use tandem axles may face different guidelines. Commercial vehicles that use two sets of tandem axles consecutively may carry up to 68,000 lbs in some situations.
Note that these are upper limits for the weight of commercial vehicles in general. Some bridges and roads set their own weight regulations that may exclude vehicles that are otherwise below the maximum weight allowable by law.
Examples of Overweight Vehicle Violations
You can boost your understanding of VC 35551a by going over these examples:
A truck driver arrives at his destination and begins loading and unloading his truck. While he is working, a police officer shows up and demands that the truck be weighed. The truck exceeds legal weight limits, but the truck driver may not face VC 35551(a) charges because he had not finalized the loading and unloading process.
Another truck driver is out on the road, driving to his destination. He pulls into a weight station when required, and discovers that his truck is 4,000 lbs. overweight. He could be charged with an infraction for driving an overweight vehicle.
A truck driver is making a long-distance trip with an incredibly heavy load. He has to stop at a weight station very close to his destination. His truck is found to be 5,000 lbs. overweight. The driver could face misdemeanor overweight vehicle charges.
Penalties for Driving an Overweight Vehicle in California
Drivers of overweight commercial vehicles can be charged with an infraction or a misdemeanor in California. Generally, drivers are only charged with an infraction if their vehicle is overweight by under 4,500 lbs. Drivers can be fined $250 for an overweight vehicle infraction.
Vehicles that are more than 4,500 lbs. overweight can lead to an overweight vehicle misdemeanor charge. Drivers who are convicted of a misdemeanor could face:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to 6 Months
Drivers who are facing charges for operating an overweight vehicle can contact a professional Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer for immediate help.
Defenses for VC 35551(a) Charges
Drivers who are accused of operating an overweight commercial vehicle may have legal options. A criminal defense lawyer can investigate the circumstances surrounding your charge and may be able to prove that you were exempt from the overweight vehicle law.
In some situations, commercial vehicles may be exempted from the overweight vehicle law. This generally only applies if you are by a loading/unloading area and:
- Getting Read to Load or Unload Your Vehicle
- Already Loading or Unloading Your Vehicle
If your commercial vehicle is only overweight because you have not fully completing unloading and loading the vehicle, you should not face VC 35551(a) charges.
Additional Charges Faced by Commercial Drivers
Many of the vehicle codes in California apply to all drivers, but some laws are designed specifically for commercial drivers. These codes include:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d): Driving a Commercial Vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 Percent or Higher
- California Vehicle Code Section 34506: Commercial Vehicle Failure to Comply with CHP Rules
Commercial drivers who need help handling charges for commercial traffic violations can get help from a professional DUI lawyer now.
Get Help Handling Overweight Vehicle Charges
You do not have to try to face a California Vehicle Code Section 35551(a): Overweight Vehicle charge alone. The criminal defense lawyers at the Simmrin Law Group can help you build a defense now. Let us provide you with legal advice today with a FREE case evaluation.
Get professional help in your corner by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 997-4688.