Questions about Overweight Tickets, Colored Lights on a CMV & More Answered by Law Enforcement Officials (as of October 2014)
Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on September 12, 2014.
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PROVING AN OVERWEIGHT TICKET
Q: My employee was driving a 2008 model F350 with a trailer attached. The CHP gave him a ticket for being overweight, but never showed him the scale nor gave him a scale master certificate. The fine is over $2,400 so I am trying to fight it. Can CHP give you a citation without any back up for it? Apparently, the truck is 15,000 GCVW and he was at 19,000 (including the trailer and the load). Thank you – Eric in California
A: Provided by Sgt. Pete Camm (Ret.), California Highway Patrol, Sacramento, CA: I think you and/or your driver have your acronyms confused. Also, based on the small amount of information given, I believe a citation was issued for a registration violation – not an overweight violation. I say this for several reasons. First, I don’t know an official “GCVW” acronym which is defined. The Federal and California rules/statutes define the following: GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). In addition, California defines the following for vehicular registration purposes: DGVW (Declared Gross Vehicle Weight) and DCGW (Declared Combined Gross Weight). Second, upon reviewing the California Bail Schedule, bail for a violation of CVC 35550, 35551 or 35551.5 (overweight on single axles, tandem axles, bridge weights, gross weights) is lower than the bail (fine) mentioned in your e-mail. More importantly, there isn’t a specific statute in the CVC which makes operating a vehicle in violation of its GVWR or GCWR a crime. I suppose a “veteran” commercial officer could cite for a violation of 24002(a) CVC (Unsafe Loading) or a violation of 34506.3 CVC, Title 13 California Code of Regulations 1230 (Unlawful Operation), but neither violation has a set bail anywhere near the amount indicated in your question. Third, upon reviewing the bail schedule for a violation of 4000.6(d) CVC (Operating in Excess of its Registered DGVW or DCGW), that bail was close to the one listed in your e-mail. Beginning in the year 2000, California joined the other 49 states and most provinces in Canada in the way motor trucks and truck-tractors are registered. Whomever registered the 2008 F350 in question apparently declared to the California Department of Motor Vehicles that the F350 would be operated singly (DGVW) or in combination (DCGW) at weights not to exceed 15,000 pounds and paid the appropriate fees. Thus, a violation of 4000.6(d) CVC exists if the vehicle is operated at a weight, singly or in combination, more than 15,000 pounds. The California Highway Patrol does not issue “Scale Master Certificates” – they are an enforcement agency, not a scale. Their scales at commercial vehicle enforcement facilities (CVEF) are certified at least annually by the county weights and measures department in which a specific scale is located. Generally, enforcement scales are 10’ x 12’, not 70’ long, as is the case for most public scales. Some upgraded CVEFs indicate your weight on a message sign above the scale lane, but other CVEFs are far more rudimentary. While I can see having a driver hop down and view a scale reading for an axle or a tandem overweight, it’s not reasonable for a “gross weight” – getting in and out of the cab three times. For court purposes, an officer should have something indicating the weight(s), even if it’s a hand-written note or tape from an “old fashioned” adding machine.
COLORED LIGHTING UNDER A CMV
Q: Can I put blue-colored LED strip lighting under my cab to illuminate my fuel tanks and steps? Thanks – Dan in Michigan
A: Provided by Officer Jaime Nunez, California Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Section, Sacramento, CA: Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 393, Subpart B, requires that all lighting equipment meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108. Part 393 is silent on lighting other than what is legally required. The California Vehicle Code prohibits vehicles from being equipped with lighting that is not required or permitted. In general, the lighting system described in your question would not be permitted in California. Other states may have different lighting rules and should be consulted for specific information.
ELECTRONIC LOG STICKER ON A CMV
Q: I see a lot of trucks displaying the “Electronic Log” sticker on the outside of their truck so when they are observed by law enforcement it is assumed that they are using an electronic logbook. But, almost none of them have any type of antenna system. I am thinking about purchasing a truck. Can I display that I have an electronic log? If I don’t, is there any type of fine that can be assessed? Thank you – Jim in Kentucky
A: Provided by Senior Trooper Monty Dial (Ret.), Texas Highway Patrol, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Garland, TX: The markings you are seeing displayed on the side of trucks that indicate the driver/motor carrier uses “Electronic Logs” is not required nor is it prohibited by the Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. What law enforcement officers (LEO) will do when performing a roadside inspection is have the driver show them the control module for the electronic logbook. Some LEO’s will have the driver even toggle through the control module while taking notes of times and duty status change locations. Current regulations found in Part 395.15, Automatic On-Board Recording Device, shows what a driver is required to do if asked by LEO’s when using an AOBR. So, just because a truck has a decal on the side of it does not mean that the driver’s duty status is not checked.
~ The Ask The Law™ programs are an ongoing educational effort between Ol’ Blue, USA™ and commercial law enforcement agencies. Ol’ Blue, USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to highway safety education and to improving relations between the motoring public, law enforcement and commercial drivers. “Ask The Law” is a registered trademark of Ol’ Blue, USA. This column is copyrighted© by Ol’ Blue, USA. Warning: Laws are subject to change without notice. These interpretations were made on September 12, 2014.