If you’re a commercial truck driver, or even renting a truck to move, you need to pay attention to weigh stations along highways. Weigh stations were originally put in place for states to collect taxes on commercial vehicles — citing the wear and tear heavy trucks place on roadways as the cause. Nowadays, weigh stations act as checkpoints for weight restrictions and safety inspections. They ensure the safety of both the trucks and other vehicles on the road by making sure the weight a vehicle carries doesn’t damage the vehicle, the road itself, or cause an accident. Heavier loads are more difficult to maneuver downhill, while turning, and when stopping. Weigh stations are also used for paperwork and equipment inspections, as well as illegal immigration and trafficking searches.
What Vehicles need to Stop?
Laws vary by state, but generally, commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds need to stop at all open scales. Some companies will send their trucks along pre-approved routes where drivers know from the beginning whether or not their vehicle can access the roadway. A driver should stop at scales when in doubt to avoid heavy tickets if caught carrying an overweight load. If the load is under the limit, at least the inspection lets the driver know how much the vehicle’s tires can handle.
Typically, commercial semis and rental vans with heavy loads will need to stop at all open weigh stations. Signs pointing to scales will usually state the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) needed to go through weigh stations, and most rented ones will have it printed on the side. The laws for specific vehicles and weights vary by state, according to AAA:
Alabama: An officer may require the weighing of a truck or trailer by portable or stationary scales, and can order a truck to scales if within a 5-mile distance.
Alaska: Trucks exceeding 10,000 lbs. must stop.
Arizona: GVW fees apply for trailers and semitrailers of 10,000 lbs or more; commercial trailers or semitrailers; motor vehicles or vehicle combinations if used or transporting passengers for compensation (excluding school buses or charitable organizations); vehicles transporting hazardous materials; or a hearse, ambulance, or similar vehicle used by a mortician. Additionally, any commodity shipped into the state can be inspected for agricultural pests.
Arkansas: Agricultural vehicles, passenger or specialty vehicles of 10,000 lbs or more, and commercial trucks exceeding 10,000 lbs must stop at weight and inspection stations.
California: All commercial vehicles must stop for inspection of size, weight, equipment, and smoke emissions wherever California Highway Patrol are conducting tests and where signs are displayed.
Colorado: Every owner or driver of a vehicle with a GVW rating or gross combination weight rating over 26,000 lbs. needs clearance from an office of the DOR, Colorado State Patrol officer, or port of entry weigh station before using it within the state.
Connecticut: All commercial vehicles regardless of weight are required to stop.
Delaware: The secretary of the Department of Public Safety may adopt weight regulations and procedures as needed for law enforcement weighing purposes.
Florida: Agricultural, motor vehicles including trailers that are or could be used in the production, manufacture, storage, sale, or transportation of any food product or agricultural, horticultural or livestock product, excepting private passenger automobiles without a trailer, travel trailers, camping trailers, and motor homes must stop; so must commercial vehicles with a GWR over 10,000 lbs, made to transport over 10 passengers, or transporting hazardous materials.
Georgia: Agricultural vehicles, passenger or specialty vehicles of 10,000 lbs or more, and commercial trucks exceeding 10,000 lbs must stop at weight and inspection stations.
Hawaii: Trucks exceeding 10,000 lbs GVW must stop.
Idaho: 10 fixed points of entry with 10 roving units are available for weighing.
Illinois: Police officers can pull over vehicles suspected of surpassing weight limits.
Indiana: Trucks with a GVW of 10,000 lbs or higher must stop.
Iowa: Any peace officer with reason to believe the weight of a vehicle and its load is unlawful can stop the driver and submit the vehicle to weighing at a portable or stationary scale, or require the vehicle to be driven to the nearest public scales. If the vehicle is overweight, he officer may stop the vehicle until enough of the load is removed to bring the GVW down to an acceptable limit. All vehicles over 10,000 lbs must stop.
Kansas: All registered trucks must stop at motor carrier safety and weight inspection stations when directed by signs. Police officers with reasonable belief that a vehicle is exceeding the weight capacity may require the driver to stop for weighing on portable or stationary scales.
Kentucky: Agriculture-carrying vehicles and commercial vehicles 10,000 lbs or more must stop.
Louisiana: Agricultural vehicles, and passenger or specialty vehicles (single or carrying a trailer) and commercial vehicles of 10,000 lbs or more must stop.
Maine: When directed by a police officer or at a designated weigh station, the driver must let the vehicle be waved and allow examination of registration and the carrying load.
Maryland: State police maintain 7 weighing and measuring stations with one station on Interstate 95 where agricultural and commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs must stop, as well as commercial buses carrying over 16 passengers and any hazardous material haulers with placards.
Massachusets: Agricultural vehicles, and passenger or specialty vehicles (single or carrying a trailer) and commercial vehicles of 10,000 lbs or more must stop.
Michigan: Vehicles with dual rear wheels moving agricultural products, trucks over 10,000 lbs with dual rear wheels and/or towing construction equipment, and all tractor and semi-trailer combination vehicles must stop.
Minnesota: Every vehicle with a GVW rating of 10,000 or more must stop.
Mississippi: Any vehicle can be weighed to verify the accuracy of registration by the State Tax Commission, tax collectors, highway patrol, or another authorized enforcement officer.
Missouri: All commercial trucks with a GVW rating over 18,000 lbs must stop.
Montana: Vehicles moving agricultural products and trucks with a GVW rating of 8,000 lbs or greater and new or used RBs being taken to a distributor or dealer must stop.
Nebraska: Excepting pickup trucks pulling a recreational trailer, all trucks over 1 ton must stop.
Nevada: Agricultural vehicles, and passenger or specialty vehicles (single or carrying a trailer) and commercial vehicles of 10,000 lbs or more must stop.
New Hampshire: The driver of every motor vehicle shall stop and submit to a weighing at portable, stationary, or scales within 10 miles of a stopping point upon the request of any law enforcement officer.
New Jersey: All vehicles 10,001 lbs or more must stop for weighing.
New Mexico: Trucks weighing 26,001 lbs or more must stop.
New York: Fixed inspection and weighing stations along with random enforcement through the use of portable units must be followed when directed.
North Carolina: The Department of Transportation operates 6 to 13 permanent weighing stations that a law enforcement officer may stop a vehicle at to see if its weight is in compliance with its declared gross weight and weight limits.
North Dakota: Excepting recreational vehicles (RVs) used for personal or recreational purposes, all vehicles with a GVW rating of over 10,000 lbs must stop.
Ohio: All commercial vehicles exceeding 10,000 lbs (5 tons) must cross scales if they come across open weigh stations.
Oklahoma: Any officer of the Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma Tax Commission, or any sheriff can stop any vehicle to weigh it with portable or stationary scales.
Oregon: All vehicles or combination of vehicles over 26,000 lbs must stop.
Pennsylvania: Agricultural vehicles when using public highways, passenger and specialty vehicles towing large trailers, large RVs, and trucks are subject to inspections and weighing regardless of size.
Rhode Island: Trucks with a GVW rating over 10,000 lbs and agricultural vehicles must stop.
South Carolina: If there’s a reason to believe the weight of a vehicle and load is unlawful, the law may require the vehicle to stop and submit to weighing at a portable or stationary scale, or drive to the closest public scales. If an officer determines the weight is unlawful, the vehicle may be stopped and unloaded until it the axle weight or gross weight reaches a safe number. The unloaded material must be taken care of by the vehicle operator at his or her own risk. The scaled total weight of the vehicle cannot be closer than 10% to the true gross weight.
South Dakota: Agricultural vehicles, trucks, and drive-away operation over 8,000 lbs GVW rating must stop.
Tennessee: Weigh stations are placed across the state for checking federal and state restrictions related to size, weight, safety and driver regulations.
Texas: All commercial vehicles must stop when directed by a sign or police officer.
Utah: Any peace officer with reason to believe the height, weight, or length of a vehicle and its load is unlawful may have the operator stop the vehicle and submit to an inspection, as well as driven to the nearest scales or port-of-entry within 3 miles.
Vermont: Any uniformed officer with reason to believe the weight of a vehicle and its load is unlawful may have the operator stop the vehicle for up to an hour for determining the weight. If the vehicle driver does not want to submit to weighing at portable scales, they may have their vehicle weighed at the nearest public scales, unless those are not reasonably nearby.
Virginia: Trucks with a registered gross weight exceeding 7,500 lbs must stop.
Washington: Agricultural vehicles and trucks exceeding 10,000 lbs must stop.
West Virginia: A police officer or motor carrier safety enforcement officer may require the driver of a vehicle or combination of vehicles to stop for weighing at a portable or stationary weighing station, or drive to the nearest weighing station if within 2 miles of where the vehicle is stopped.
Wisconsin: Trucks over 10,000 lbs in GVW must stop.
Wyoming: Trucks are required to stop when instructed by a regulatory sign or police officer, and can be chosen for inspection randomly. All oversize and overweight loads of 150,000 lbs or more must have a permit, or permission to enter the state in order to buy a permit, before entering Wyoming and driving on state roads.
If you’re driving a larger vehicle and think you may need to stop at a weigh station, check the laws in the state(s) you’ll be driving through. Most trucks come with their GVW posted on the side to give you an idea of how heavy a load they can handle. If you’re ever unsure, stop at a weigh station anyways to avoid a hefty fine, and gain an idea about what your vehicle can handle.