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California's "Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facilities" are commonly called weigh stations or truck scales. These facilities are operated by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), not by Caltrans. However, Caltrans receives many inquiries about weigh stations. This page is designed to answer some of those questions. The links provide access to the on-line California Vehicle Code (CVC).
CVC Section 2813 outlines who must stop at weigh stations and inspection stations:
2813. Every driver of a commercial vehicle shall stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection of the size, weight, equipment, and smoke emissions of the vehicle at any location where members of the California Highway Patrol are conducting tests and inspections of commercial vehicles and when signs are displayed requiring the stop. Every driver who fails or refuses to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection when signs are displayed requiring that stop is guilty of a misdemeanor.
CVC Section 260 defines "commercial vehicle" (bolding added):
260. (a) A "commercial vehicle" is a motor vehicle of a type required to be registered under this code used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit or designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.
(b) Passenger vehicles which are not used for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit and housecars are not commercial vehicles. ...
(c) Any vanpool vehicle is not a commercial vehicle.
CVC Section 410 defines a "motor truck" (bolding added):
410. A "motor truck" or "motortruck" is a motor vehicle designed, used, or maintained primarily for the transportation of property.
CVC Section 471 defines "pickup truck" (bolding added):
471. A "pickup truck" is a motor truck with a manufacturer's gross vehicle weight rating of less than 11,500 pounds, an unladen weight of less than 8,001 pounds, and which is equipped with an open box-type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length. "Pickup truck" does not include a motor vehicle otherwise meeting the above definition, that is equipped with a bed-mounted storage compartment unit commonly called a "utility body."
DO THESE VEHICLES HAVE TO STOP AT THE SCALES?
PICKUP -- It depends on the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), unladen weight, and bed of the truck.
GVWR under 11,500 pounds, unladen weight of less than 8,001 pounds, and open box-type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length -- NO.
GVWR 11,500 pounds or more, unladen weight 8,001 pounds or more, or not equipped with an open box-type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length -- YES.
Discussion: According to CVC Section 471, pickups are a motor truck by definition, which is required to stop at the scales per CVC Section 2813. However, all California weigh stations have signs stating: "No Pickups." So, if a vehicle meet the definition of pickup in CVC Section 471, it is not required to stop at the scales because of the signs stating: "No Pickups." If the pickup has a GVWR of 11,500 pounds or more, an unladen weight 8,001 pounds, not equipped with an open-box type bed not exceeding 9 feet in length, or the pickup bed has been removed and a utility body or flat bed has been mounted, then it no longer meets the definition of pickup in CVC Section 471; it is then a "motor truck" under CVC Section 410 and required to stop at the weigh stations.
PICKUP WITH CAMPER SHELL -- NO (May have to stop under certain conditions. Contact California Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Section for verification (916-843-3400))
Discussion: It can also display passenger vehicle plates, as long as the cargo in the bed is not being hauled for compensation.
PICKUP WITH CAB / CREW CAB WITH BOX-TYPE BED -- YES
Discussion: The utility or box bed has to enter weigh stations.
RENTAL TRUCK -- YES
Discussion: Rental trucks can be a U-Haul, Ryder, Sears, Budget, Enterprise, etc. A rental truck is a motor truck, according to CVC Section 410, and must stop at the weigh stations. Most scale facilities make this very clear with signs reminding drivers: "All Daily Rental/Moving Trucks Must Stop At Scales When Open." However, if the rental truck is a pick up, it does not necessarily have to stop (see "Pick Up " section above). If the rental truck is a flat bed or utitility bed, then YES, it does have to stop.
CARGO VAN -- It depends on the load and the use. Technically, they are a motor truck according to CVC Section 410 and, therefore, required to stop at the weigh stations.
Discussion: Yes, technically a cargo van is a motor truck according to CVC Section 410 and, therefore, required to stop at the scales.
STILL NOT SURE IF YOU NEED TO STOP?
For more information about who must stop at the scales, contact the California Highway Patrol (CHP) as follows:
PHONE CHP HQ: CHP Commercial Vehicle Section at (916) 843-3400.
CONTACT CHP HQ ON-LINE: Start at the CHP website. Scroll to the bottom to the blue bar and click on the link "Contact Us." Then click on the link at the 6th bullet that says "For Questions or Comments please click here."
PHONE WEIGH STATION: If you know which weigh station you will be passing, you may call the facility directly. See the Weigh Station Location List for phone numbers.