California Department of Transportation
 

Weight Limitations

Summarized here are the California Vehicle Code (CVC) sections related to vehicle weight.

The CVC sections on this web page are paraphrased for brevity. For the full legal wording, please go to the on-line CVC Weight Sections 35550 - 35558.


GROSS WEIGHT

UNIT

MAXIMUM

Vehicle Combination

80,000 pounds

AXLE WEIGHTS

UNIT

MAXIMUM

Single Axle

20,000 pounds

Axle Group: less than 8'-6" (8-feet-6-inches) between outer axles

34,000 pounds

Axle Group: 8'-6" (8-feet-6-inches) or more between outer axles (Note: 8'-6" is rounded up to 9 feet.)

See the CVC weight chart below.


GENERAL RULE

35550. (a) The gross weight on any one axle shall not exceed 20,000 pounds, and the gross weight upon any one wheel, or wheels, supporting one end of an axle, shall not exceed 10,500 pounds.

(b) The gross weight limit for any one wheel, or wheels, shall not apply to vehicles with loads of livestock.

(c) The maximum wheel load is the lesser of the following:
(1) The load limit established by the tire manufacturer, on the tire sidewall.
(2) A load of 620 pounds per lateral inch of tire width, as determined by the manufacturer's rated tire width on the tire sidewall. The steering axle, however, must go by the load limit by the tire manufacturer.

AXLE GROUP WEIGHT CHART

35551. (a) The total gross weight in pounds imposed on the highway by any group of two or more consecutive axles shall not exceed that given for the respective distance in the following table:

Distance in feet between the extremes of any group of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

4

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

5

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

6

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

7

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

8

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

34,000

9

39,000

42,500

42,500

42,500

42,500

10

40,000

43,500

43,500

43,500

43,500

11

40,000

44,000

44,000

44,000

44,000

12

40,000

45,000

50,000

50,000

50,000

13

40,000

45,500

50,500

50,500

50,500

14

40,000

46,500

51,500

51,500

51,500

15

40,000

47,000

52,000

52,000

52,000

16

40,000

48,000

52,500

52,500

52,500

17

40,000

48,500

53,500

53,500

53,500

18

40,000

49,500

54,000

54,000

54,000

19

40,000

50,000

54,500

54,500

54,500

Distance in feet between
the extremes of any group
of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

20

40,000

51,000

55,500

55,500

55,500

21

40,000

51,500

56,000

56,000

56,000

22

40,000

52,500

56,500

56,500

56,500

23

40,000

53,000

57,500

57,500

57,500

24

40,000

54,000

58,000

58,000

58,000

25

40,000

54,500

58,500

58,500

58,500

26

40,000

55,500

59,500

59,500

59,500

27

40,000

56,000

60,000

60,000

60,000

28

40,000

57,000

60,500

60,500

60,500

29

40,000

57,500

61,500

61,500

61,500

30

40,000

58,500

62,000

62,000

62,000

31

40,000

59,000

62,500

62,500

62,500

32

40,000

60,000

63,500

63,500

63,500

33

40,000

60,000

64,000

64,000

64,000

34

40,000

60,000

64,500

64,500

64,500

35

40,000

60,000

65,500

65,500

65,500

36

40,000

60,000

66,000*

66,000

66,000

37

40,000

60,000

66,500*

66,500

66,500

38

40,000

60,000

67,500*

67,500

67,500

39

40,000

60,000

68,000

68,000

68,000

Distance in feet between
the extremes of any group
of 2 or more consecutive axles

2 axles

3 axles

4 axles

5 axles

6 axles

40

40,000

60,000

68,500

70,000

70,000

41

40,000

60,000

69,500

72,000

72,000

42

40,000

60,000

70,000

73,280

73,280

43

40,000

60,000

70,500

73,280

73,280

44

40,000

60,000

71,500

73,280

73,280

45

40,000

60,000

72,000

76,000

80,000

46

40,000

60,000

72,500

76,500

80,000

47

40,000

60,000

73,500

77,500

80,000

48

40,000

60,000

74,000

78,000

80,000

49

40,000

60,000

74,500

78,500

80,000

50

40,000

60,000

75,500

79,000

80,000

51

40,000

60,000

76,000

80,000

80,000

52

40,000

60,000

76,500

80,000

80,000

53

40,000

60,000

77,500

80,000

80,000

54

40,000

60,000

78,000

80,000

80,000

55

40,000

60,000

78,500

80,000

80,000

56

40,000

60,000

79,500

80,000

80,000

57

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

58

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

59

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

60

40,000

60,000

80,000

80,000

80,000

*For allowable weights on two consecutive sets of tandems 36 feet or more apart, see 35551 (b) under EXCEPTIONS - TWO TANDEM AXLES.

MEASUREMENTS

35551. (c) The distance between axles shall be measured to the nearest whole foot. When a fraction is exactly six inches, the next larger whole foot shall be used.

35551. (e) These gross weight limits shall include all enforcement tolerances.

EXCEPTIONS - TWO TANDEM AXLES

35551. (b) Two consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry 34,000 pounds each if the distance between the first and last axles of the consecutive sets of tandem axles is 36 feet or more. 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.


ALTERNATE AXLE GROUP WEIGHT CHART

35551.5. (a) This section shall apply only to combinations of vehicles which contain a trailer or semitrailer. Vehicles shall comply with either Section 35551 or with subdivisions (b), (c), and (d) of this section.

35551.5. (b) The gross weight imposed upon the highway by the wheels on any one axle of a vehicle shall not exceed 18,000 pounds and the gross weight upon any one wheel, or wheels, on one end of an axle and resting upon the roadway, shall not exceed 9,500 pounds, except that the gross weight imposed upon the highway by the wheels on any front steering axle of a motor vehicle shall not exceed 12,500 pounds.

The gross weight limit on any one wheel, or wheels, supporting one end of an axle shall not apply to vehicles with livestock loads.

The following vehicles are exempt from the front axle weight limits specified in this subdivision:

(1) Trucks transporting vehicles.
(2) Trucks transporting livestock.
(3) Dump trucks.
(4) Cranes.
(5) Buses.
(6) Transit mix concrete or cement trucks, and trucks that mix concrete or cement at, or adjacent to, a jobsite.
(7) Motor vehicles that are not commercial vehicles.
(8) Vehicles operated by any public utility furnishing electricity, gas, water, or telephone service.
(9) Trucks or truck tractors with a front axle at least four feet to the rear of the foremost part of the truck or truck tractor, not including the front bumper.
(10) Trucks transporting garbage, rubbish, or refuse.
(11) Trucks equipped with a fifth wheel when towing a semitrailer.
(12) Tank trucks which have a cargo capacity of at least 1,500 gallons.
(13) Trucks transporting bulk grains or bulk livestock feed.

35551.5. (c) The total gross weight by any group of two or more consecutive axles where the distance between the first and last axles is 18 feet or less shall not exceed:

Distance in feet between first and last axles of group

Allowed load in pounds on group of axles

4

32,000

5

32,000

6

32,200

7

32,900

8

33,600

9

34,300

10

35,000

11

35,700

12

36,400

13

37,100

14

43,200

15

44,000

16

44,800

17

45,600

18

46,400

35551.5. (d) The total gross weight where the distance between the first and last axles is more than 18 feet shall not exceed:

Distance in feet

Allowed load in pounds

19

47,200

20

48,000

21

48,800

22

49,600

23

50,400

24

51,200

25

55,250

26

56,100

27

56,950

28

57,800

29

58,650

30

59,500

31

60,350

32

61,200

33

62,050

34

62,900

35

63,750

36

64,600

37

65,450

38

66,300

39

68,000

40

70,000

41

72,000

42

73,280

43

73,280

44

73,280

45

73,280

46

73,280

47

73,280

48

73,280

49

73,280

50

73,280

51

73,280

52

73,600

53

74,400

54

75,200

55

76,000

56 or over

76,800

MEASUREMENTS

35551.5. (e) The distance between axles shall be measured to the nearest whole foot. When a fraction is exactly six inches, the next larger whole foot shall be used.

35551.5. (f) The gross weight limits shall include all enforcement tolerances.


EXCEPTION - FIRE TRUCKS

The California Code of Regulations, Title 21, allows increased axle weights on fire trucks. For more details, see this website: Fire Truck Exemptions.


EXCEPTION - LOG HAULERS

35552. (a) Vehicles transporting logs may exceed tandem weight by 1,500 pounds, and may carry a gross weight of 69,000 pounds on two consecutive sets of tandem axles, under certain conditions. For more information, see the web page: Log Haulers Weight Exemptions.

(b) One set of tandem axles of log trucks shall be in compliance with Section 35551 if the total gross weight of 34,000 pounds is not exceeded by more than 1,500 pounds. Two consecutive sets of tandem axles shall be in compliance with Section 35551 if the consecutive sets of tandem axles do not carry a combined total gross weight of more than 69,000 pounds, if:

  • the total gross weight on any one set does not exceed 35,500 pounds, and
  • the distance between the first and last axle of the consecutive sets of tandem axles is 34 feet or more.

All such truck and vehicle combinations shall be subject to all other provisions.

(c) The gross weight limits expressed in this section shall include all enforcement tolerances.

(d) If any total gross weight is exceeded, the allowed weight in pounds set forth in Section 35551 shall be the maximum permitted weight for determining the fine for the violation as specified in the table in Section 42030; except that, whenever the violation is for exceeding the total gross weight for two consecutive sets of tandem axles, and if the overall distance between the first and last axle of such sets is 34 feet or more, the allowed weight on the two consecutive sets shall be 68,000 pounds.

(e) This section shall have no application to highways which are a part of the National Network (NN). (To determine which routes are NN, click here for the Truck Route List in Excel and look for NN in the column "Type.")


EXCEPTION - LOADING & UNLOADING

35553. Weight limits shall not apply to any vehicle in the immediate vicinity of an unloading or loading area while preparing for or in the process of unloading or loading, provided any overload is incidental to and necessitated by such action; and provided that the action does not occur on a bridge or highway structure.

This section shall have no application to highways which are a part of the National Network (NN). (To determine which routes are NN, click here for the Truck Route List in Excel and look for NN in the column "Type.")


EXCEPTION - BUSES & MOTORHOMES

CVC 35554. The gross weight on any one axle of a bus shall not exceed 20,500 pounds.

A transit bus has a weight exemption, depending on when the bus was procured, per Assembly Bill 1706 which was chaptered on 9/29/12. See CVC 35554 for details.

Buses & Motorhomes on the Interstates: U.S. Code, Title 23, Section 127 allows buses and motorhomes a maximum single-axle weight of 24,000 pounds while traveling on the interstate routes. See the U.S. Code link for more details.


EXCEPTION - COTTON MODULE MOVERS

35555. (a) Cotton module movers have a weight exemption under certain circumstances. For details, see the web page: "Cotton Module Movers."

LEGAL USE OF WEIGHT CERTIFICATES

35557. (a) Vehicle weight certificates issued on or after January 1, 1984, and other associated weight records, if approved by the Director of Food and Agriculture, are subject to legal process in a criminal or civil proceeding if due to a violation of the Business and Professions Code, Division 5, Chapter 7 , Chapter 7.3, and Chapter 7.7.

SCALES AT FACILITY

35558. If an axle weigh scale is at the loading facility, the load shall be weighed before the vehicle leaves the facility. In a port facility, this requirement only applies if the scale is located in outbound lanes.


EXCEPTIONS - LOCAL OVERWEIGHT PERMITS

35700. (a) Any county or city may permit loads on highways under their jurisdictions of a maximum gross weight in excess of that specified in this code. (b) This section does not apply to state highways.


EXCEPTIONS - INTERNATIONAL CONTAINERS

Per CVC Section 35700.5(a), trucks hauling international containers may be issued permits for up to 95,000 pounds GVW on segments of Routes 1, 47, and 103 under certain conditions. See web site: "International Container Weight Exemption in California."


WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS

35701. (a) Any city, or county for a residence district, may prohibit the use of a street by any commercial vehicle or by any vehicle exceeding a maximum gross weight limit, except:

  • vehicles subject to the Public Utilities Code Sections 1031 through 1036 (passenger stage corporations), and
  • vehicles used for the collection and transportation of garbage using traditionally used routes in San Diego County.

(b) The ordinance shall not be effective until appropriate signs are erected.

(c) No ordinance adopted after November 10, 1969 shall apply to any state highway on the National Network (NN). (To determine which routes are NN, click here for the Truck Route List in Excel and look for NN in the column "Type."), unless approved by a two-thirds vote of the California Transportation Commission.

(d) The solid waste management plan prepared under Section 66780.1 of the Government Code by San Diego County may designate the traditionally used routes.

(e) "Traditionally used route" means any street used for one year or more as access to or from a solid waste disposal site.

35702. Local weight limits are only effective on local roads. State highway weight limits must be approved by the Department of Transportation. An alternate route must be provided.

PICK UPS & DELIVERIES EXEMPTED

35703. No ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 35701 shall prohibit any commercial vehicles coming from an unrestricted street having ingress and egress by direct route to and from a restricted street when necessary for:

  • picking up or delivering goods from or to any building or structure on the restricted street, or
  • delivering materials used in the repair, alteration, remodeling, or construction of any building or structure on the restricted street for which a building permit has previously been obtained.

PUBLIC UTILITIES EXEMPTED

35704. No ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 35701 to decrease weight limits shall apply to any vehicle owned by a public utility or a licensed contractor while necessary for the construction, installation, or repair of any public utility.

FUNDING

35705. Section 35701 shall not be applicable to any city street on which money from the State Highway Account in the State Transportation Fund has been used for construction or maintenance except when the legislative body of the city, after notice and hearing, determines to reduce weight limits on such streets. For more information, see the CVC Section 35705.

COUNTIES

35706. Counties may reduce the permissible weight of vehicles and loads on unimproved county highways or on county bridges.

For more information on Weights and Local Authority, and Weights and Bridges, see the CVC Division 15, Chapter 5 ("Weight"), Article 4 ("Local Authorities") Sections 35706 to 35722. and Article 5 ("Bridges and Other Structures") Sections 35750 to 35755.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are these weights for the vehicle only? No, the weight limits on this page apply to the weight on the pavement of the vehicle and load combined.

What is the maximum load I can put on the truck or in the container? The law regulates the weight on the pavement. Caltrans cannot provide weight limits for the load, as the load limits depend on many unknown factors, such as the weight of the vehicle and the weight distribution.

What are the fines for overweight? The overweight fines depend on a number of factors, including the amount of overweight and the county that the citation was issued in. These two links may help you determine the fines and/or where to pay the ticket:

http://www.ca.gov/Driving/LawsSafety/TrafficFines.html
http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/Final-2012-JC-BAIL.pdf

What are the weight tolerances for enforcement? Caltrans can only inform you of the law. Weight tolerances are an enforcement issue. The enforcement agency is the California Highway Patrol (CHP). You may contact the CHP Commercial Vehicle Section at (916) 843-3400.  Or you may call the weigh station you will be passing. The weigh station locations and contact information are in this Excel file at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/engineering/trucks/weigh-stations/locations.xlsx.

How can I get my truck weighed? The California Dept. of Food & Agriculture maintains a list of public weigh scales at: http://cdfa.ca.gov/dms/publicscales/. These are private companies that will weigh your truck for a fee. If you need a weight certification, e.g., for DMV, you should call ahead to make sure they provide certificates.

Where can I read the CVC weight section? The weight section of the CVC is at: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=veh&group=35001-36000&file=35550-35558.


CONTACTS

Caltrans Legal Truck Access Branch
Casey Robb
Manuel Fonseca
General number (916) 654-5741

E-mail: Legal Truck Access Branch.

Return to the Caltrans "Legal Truck Access" page.

Revised 8/15/14.