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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.
Axle Group: less than 8'-6" (8-feet-6-inches) between outer axles
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.
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
Distance in feet between
the extremes of any group
of 2 or more consecutive axles
*For allowable weights on two consecutive sets of tandems 36 feet or more apart, see 35551 (b) under EXCEPTIONS - TWO TANDEM AXLES.
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.
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.
(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
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
56 or over
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.
The California Code of Regulations, Title 21, allows increased axle weights on fire trucks. See Fire Truck Exemptions.
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. See 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:
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.")
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, view the Truck Route List and look NN in the designation column.
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.
35555. (a) Cotton module movers have a weight exemption under certain circumstances. See 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.
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.
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.
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 Container Weight Exemption.
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:
(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:
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.
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.
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 there other weight limits? Yes.
Are these weights for the vehicle only? No, the weight limits on the weight chart above 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, not on the truck. 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:
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.
How can I get my truck weighed? The California Dept. of Food & Agriculture maintains a list of public weigh scales. 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.