Now that you mention it, how many have been on the road wondering if you’ll need to stop in at the local weigh station? Well, I never imagined that possibility of perhaps having to do so, but you may wish to read on for the weigh station scoop.
The answer is Yes and No depending on which state you are driving in and its particular laws. However, after researching this topic, I’d have to go with saying the answer is generally, No. Sound judgment always comes into play in traveling and knowing state laws certainly can make your travels a lot less complicated. Let’s take a look at this baffling question.
IS THE LAW REALLY THE LAW?
The AAA Digest of Motor Laws (accessible online) will pretty much give you all the answers you need to know on various oddities of the law while driving. While there are specific state laws on weigh stations, it appears that most states may look the other way when an RV comes rolling by.
You can rest assured if your Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is less than 10,000 pounds, you will never be required to stop at a weigh station in the USA. GCWR means the maximum allowed weight of a vehicle, its passengers and cargo including towing an RV and its contents.
For instance, a pickup truck may have a GCWR of 15,000 pounds. Let’s assume the weight of the truck, with passengers and cargo is 6,800 lbs. This leaves you the ability to tow an 8,200 lb. RV that is fully loaded (including cargo).
There are actually almost half of the states whose laws declare a stop is necessary or have specific laws laid out if your GCWR exceeds 10,000 lbs.
When you combine your tow vehicle, your RV, plus the cargo in both, you very well may exceed 10,000 lbs. Let’s not forget about motorhomes either. Many motorhomes tow a vehicle, and remember, all that counts in the world of weigh stations.
Colorado and Oregon’s weight limit states 26,000 pounds. If your RV or vehicle/RV combination exceeds that amount, a stop at the weigh station is necessary.
An officer may require you to pull over at a weigh station or you may be directed by signage in Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. These states do not have a specific stated weight limit for RVs and vehicles. They simply have random checks at their discretion.
Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and Wisconsin require single or in combination (towing a trailer or car) vehicles to stop at weigh stations if the GCWR is 10,000 lbs. or more.
Pennsylvania laws simply state that regardless of size any “large” recreational vehicle is subject to inspection. I suppose it will be up to you to determine the meaning of “large.”
South Dakota, Virginia and Washington make mention of trucks over the weight limit of 8,000, 7,500 and 10,000 lbs., respectively, stopping at weigh stations. Since the word “commercial” was not included in the description of a truck, a double check on the weigh station laws in these states, may give you peace of mind.
It appears that while in Canada, any officer may require you to pull over at a weigh station based upon the officer’s direction. You can be required to do so by an officer or a sign. Nova Scotia was the only province in Canada specifically stating that “all vehicles over 4,500 kg (9,920 pounds) weight must stop, or when directed to by a sign.”
I REALLY HAVE TO DO THIS?
Now with all this said, are you confused yet? I certainly was so investigated further with some states to ensure what I was reading pertained to RVs.
New Jersey law states, “New Jersey requires all vehicles that weigh 10,001 lbs. or more to weigh.” Louisiana law states, “The following vehicles must stop: (1) agricultural vehicles; (2) passenger or specialty vehicles, either single or in combination (towing a trailer) with GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or more; (3) commercial trucks with GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or more.”
Yep, I agree with you. This leaves a lot of questions in the mind of the law-abiding citizen trying to interpret it all and do the right thing.
So, I read dozens of RV forums with 99% forum conversationalists in agreement that you never need to stop at a weigh station when driving a motorhome or towing an RV because it is not “commercial.” These 99% stated they had never stopped nor ever been pulled over for not stopping.
The forum conversations I read pertained to many people who have driven throughout the lower 48 states, driven semi-trucks professionally, or wanna-be-lawyers interpreting a state’s law. As the conversation went, the most you may get from a weigh station you pull into is a look of “why the heck are you in here?” or, a laugh and a wave to get you out of their way.
I did read of one gentleman who said he was “run down” in NM because he didn’t stop at the weigh station. Another obeyed a sign along his travels that stated RVs must stop at the weigh station.
If an officer is waving you over or a sign dictates that ALL vehicles over a particular weight limit or RVs are to pull over, common sense certainly tells one to make the stop. Perhaps there is a particular stretch of road or a specific reason RVs are being directed through the weigh station. You don’t want to chance getting a fine. As the saying goes, “better safe than sorry.”
As with many other areas of life, one must chalk this question up to experience. If you are new to RVing into other areas of the country, I can totally relate. My husband and I have not set off for the wild blue yonder quite yet, so we will have involvement with various state laws to educate ourselves on and become accustom to. There’s definite value in knowing state laws along the way on bridges, tunnels, weigh stations and the like.
Hmmm, so do RVs have to stop at weigh stations?
Well, despite their name, scales are not the only thing involved at weigh stations. Many weigh stations perform visual safety checks, such as checking tires and lug nuts to ensure the wheels are tight. Additionally, some inspectors will check a truck’s suspension and exterior lights. Bridges throughout the USA are designed to have an acceptable maximum weight of 800 lbs. of tire pressure per square inch. This is federal law, but it is up to each state to enforce it via weigh stations.
Having enough manpower is an issue in many state weigh stations. Trucks are known to pass weigh stations by, however, the station lacks the manpower to bring them back.
With that said, it appears to be more likely that an RV will not need to make a weigh station stop, and I’ve not found any great discretion that an RVer has succumbed to by not stopping. Playing “dumb” if you are stopped can’t hurt either.
If you’re a “play it safe” kind, you may feel better stopping at some weigh stations along the way in states that have such a law on their books just to do your own checks and balances on whether you’ll need to weigh in. Of course, RVers also love being the adventurous type so you may want to “Thelma and Louise” it right down the highway and laugh as you pass the weigh station by.
We’d love to hear from those of you reading this on any weigh station experience or knowledge you have. Feel free to leave us a comment.