DO RVS HAVE TO STOP AT WEIGH STATIONS?
Every new RVer hitting the road in their larger travel trailer, 5th wheel, or motorhome eventually asks, do RVs have to stop at weigh stations? 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. 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 has answers about various oddities of the law while driving. There are specific state laws on weigh stations. But 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, they 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.
State Specific Limits
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 are notable. They require single or in combination (towing a trailer or car) vehicles to stop. That’s 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 require trucks over the weight limit of 8,000, 7,500 and 10,000 lbs. The word “commercial” was not included in the description of a truck. Double check on the weigh station laws in these states.
It appears that while in Canada, any officer may require you to pull over at a weigh station. You can be required to do so by an officer or a sign. Nova Scotia was the only province in Canada with a specific law. It states 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? Are you still asking yourself, do RVs need to stop at weigh stations? 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 is hard.
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. They drove semi-trucks professionally, or wanna-be-lawyers interpreted a state’s law. The most you may get from a weigh station you pull into is a look of “Why the heck are you in here?” Or, you’ll get 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. He didn’t stop at the weigh station. Another obeyed a sign along his travels that stated RVs must stop at the weigh station.
Is an officer is waving you over? Does a sign dictate that ALL vehicles over a weight limit 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.”
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. U.S. bridges 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.
It’s more likely that an RV will not need to make a weigh station stop. Playing “dumb” if you are stopped can’t hurt.
If you’re a “play it safe” kind, you may feel better stopping at some weigh stations. Do your own checks and balances on whether you’ll need to weigh in. Of course, RVers also love being the adventurous type. You may want to “Thelma and Louise” it down the highway and laugh as you pass by the weigh station.