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General Provisions Relating to Vehicle Size and Weight

Definition (TRC 621.401):

In this subchapter, " weight enforcement officer " means:

  1. a license and weight inspector of the Department of Public Safety;
  2. a highway patrol officer;
  3. a sheriff or sheriff's deputy;
  4. a municipal police officer in a municipality with a population of:
    1. (A) 100,000 or more; or
    2. 74,000 or more in a county with a population of more than 1.5 million; or
  5. a police officer certified under Section 644.101; or
  6. a constable or deputy constable designated under Section 621.4015.

Weighing Loaded Vehicle (TRC 621.402):

  1. A weight enforcement officer who has reason to believe that the gross weight or axle load of a loaded motor vehicle is unlawful may:
    1. weigh the vehicle using portable or stationary scales furnished or approved by the Department of Public Safety; or
    2. require the vehicle to be weighed by a public weigher.
  2. The officer may require that the vehicle be driven to the nearest available scales.
  3. A noncommissioned employee of the Department of Public Safety who is certified for the purpose by the public safety director and who is supervised by an officer of the Department of Public Safety may, in a port of entry or at a commercial motor vehicle inspection site, weigh a vehicle, require the vehicle to be weighed, or require a vehicle to be driven to the nearest scale under Subsections (a) and (b).
  4. Prior to assessment of a penalty for weight which exceeds the maximum allowable axle weights, the owner or operator is authorized to shift the load to reduce or eliminate such excess axle weight penalties as long as no part of the shipment is removed.
  5. The Department of Public Safety:
    1. shall establish by rule uniform weighing procedures for weight enforcement officers to ensure an accurate weight is obtained for a motor vehicle; and
    2. may revoke or rescind the authority of:
      1. a weight enforcement officer who fails to comply with those rules; or
      2. weight enforcement officers of a municipal police department, sheriff's department, or constable's office that fails to comply with those rules.

Unloading Vehicle if Gross Weight Exceeded (TRC 621.403):

  1. If the gross weight of a motor vehicle weighed under Section 621.402 is heavier than the weight equal to the maximum gross weight authorized by law for that vehicle plus a tolerance allowance equal to five percent of that maximum weight, the weight enforcement officer shall require the operator or owner of the vehicle to unload a part of the load necessary to decrease the gross weight that is not heavier than the weight equal to the vehicle's maximum gross weight plus the applicable tolerance allowance.
  2. The operator or owner of the vehicle immediately shall unload the vehicle to the extent necessary to reduce the gross weight as required by Subsection (a), and the vehicle may not be operated further over a public highway or road of this state until the gross weight has been reduced as required by Subsection (a).

Unloading Vehicle if Axle Load Exceeded (TRC 621.404):

  1. If the axle load of a motor vehicle weighed under Section 621.402 is heavier than the maximum axle load authorized by law for the vehicle plus a tolerance allowance equal to five percent of that maximum load, the weight enforcement officer shall require the operator or owner of the vehicle to rearrange the vehicle's cargo, if possible, to bring the vehicle's axles within the maximum axle load allowed by law for that vehicle. If the cargo, a part of the vehicle's load shall be unloaded to decrease the axle load to a weight that is not heavier than the maximum axle load allowed by law for the vehicle plus the applicable tolerance allowance.
  2. The vehicle may not be operated further over the public highways or roads of the state until the axle load of the vehicle has been reduced as required by Subsection (a).

Unloading Exceptions (TRC 621.405):

  1. The operator or owner of a vehicle is not required to unload any part of the vehicle's load under Section 621.403 or 621.404 if the vehicle is:
    1. a motor vehicle loaded with timber, pulp wood, or agricultural products in their natural state being transported from the place of production to the place of marketing or first processing; or
    2. a vehicle crossing a highway as provided by Subchapter C, Chapter 623.
  2. The operator of a motor vehicle may proceed to the vehicle's destination without unloading the vehicle as required by Section 621.403 or 621.404 if:
    1. the vehicle is loaded with livestock(chickens included); and
    2. the vehicle's destination is in this state.

Additional Gross Weight Registration (TRC 621.406):

  1. If the gross weight of the motor vehicle is not heavier than the maximum gross weight allowed for the vehicle but is heavier than the registered gross weight for the vehicle, the weight enforcement officer shall require the operator or owner of the vehicle to apply to the nearest available county assessor-collector to increase the gross weight for which the vehicle is registered to a weight equal to or heavier than the gross weight of the vehicle before the operator or owner may proceed.
  2. The vehicle may not be operated further over the public highways or roads of the state until the registered gross weight of the vehicle has been increased as required by Subsection (a) unless the load consists of livestock or perishable merchandise, in which event the operator or owner may proceed with the vehicle in the direction of the vehicle's destination to the nearest practical location at which the vehicle's load can be protected from damage or destruction before increasing the registered weight.
  3. If an operator or owner is found to be carrying a load that is heavier than the load allowed for the registered gross weight of the vehicle, the operator or owner shall pay for the registration of the additional weight for the entire period for which the vehicle is registered without regard to whether the owner or operator has been carrying similar loads from the date of purchase of the vehicle's current license registration for that registration period.

Powers of Weight Enforcement Officers (TRC 621.408):

Except for the authority granted to a port-of-entry supervisor or inspector by Section 621.409, weight enforcement officers have exclusively authority:

  1. to enforce this subchapter in any area of this state other than in the territory of a municipality with a population of more than:
    1. 100,000; or
    2. 74,000 in a county with a population of more than 1.5 million; and
  2. To enforce all weight limitations for a vehicle on a state-maintained public highway or at a port-of-entry between Texas and the United Mexican States.

Weighing of Loaded Vehicles by Port-of-Entry Supervisors, Inspectors, or Weight Enforcement Officers (TRC 621.409):

  1. A port-of-entry supervisor, an inspector employed by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, or a weight enforcement officer who has reason to believe that the gross weight or axle load of a loaded motor vehicle is unlawful may weigh the vehicle using portable or stationary scales furnished or approved by the Department of Public Safety.
  2. If the vehicle exceeds the maximum gross weight authorized by law, plus the tolerance allowance provided by Section 621.403, the supervisor, inspector, or weight enforcement officer may prohibit the vehicle from proceeding farther into the state.

General Provisions

Definitions (TRC 621.001) :

"Commercial motor vehicle" means a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, designed or used for:

  1. the transportation of property; or
  2. delivery purposes.

"Commission" the Texas Transportation Commission.

"Department" means the Texas Department of Trans-portation.

"Director" means the executive director of the Texas De-partment of Transportation.

"Motor vehicle" means a vehicle that is self-propelled.

"Semitrailer" means a vehicle without motive power that is designed, or used with a motor vehicle, so that some of its weight and the weight of its load rests on or is carried by the motor vehicle.

"Trailer" means a vehicle without motive power that is:

  1. designed or used to carry property or passengers on its own structure exclusively; and
  2. drawn by a motor vehicle.

"Truck-tractor" means a motor vehicle designed or used primarily for drawing another vehicle:

  1. that is not constructed to carry a load being drawn; or
  2. that is engaged with a semitrailer in the transportation of automobiles or boats and that transports the automobiles or boats on part of the truck-tractor.

"Vehicle" means a mechanical device, other than a device moved by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks, in, on, or by which a person or property can be transported on a public highway. The term includes a motor vehicle, commercial motor vehicle, truck-tractor, trailer, or semitrailer but does not include manufactured housing as defined by the Texas Manu-factured Housing Standards Act (Article 5221f, Vernon's Texas Civil Statutes).

Vehicle Registration Receipt for certain Heavy Vehicles (TRC 621.002):

  1. A copy of the registration receipt issued under Section 502.178 for a commercial motor vehicle, truck-tractor, trailer, or semitrailer shall be:
    1. carried on the vehicle when the vehicle is on a public highway; and
    2. presented to an officer authorized to enforce this chapter on request of the officer.
  2. A copy of the registration receipt is:
    1. admissible in evidence in any cause in which the gross registered weight of the vehicle is an issue; and
    2. prima facie evidence of the gross weight for which the vehicle is registered.

Weight Limitations

Maximum Weight of Load (TRC 621.101):

  1. A vehicle or combination of vehicles may not be operated over or on a public highway, or at a port-of-entry between Texas and the United Mexican States if the vehicle or combination has:
    1. a single axle weight heavier than 20,000 pounds, including all enforcement tolerances;
    2. a tandem axle weight heavier than 34,000 pounds, including all enforcement tolerances;
    3. an overall gross weight on a group of two or more consecutive axles heavier than the weight computed using the following formula and rounding the result to the nearest 500 pounds;
      W = 500 ((LN / N-1 ) + 12N + 36)
      Where:
      " W " = is maximum overall gross weight in the group;
      " L " = is distance in feet between the axles of the group that are the farthest apart; and
      " N" = is the number of axles in the group;
    4. tires that carry a weight heavier than the weight specified and marked on the sidewall of the tire, unless the vehicle is being operated under the terms of a special permit.
  2. Nothwithstanding Subsection (a)(3), two consecutive sets of tandem axles may carry a gross load of not more than 34,000 pounds each if the overall distance between the first and last axles of the consecutive sets is 36 feet or more. The overall gross weight on a group of two or more consecutive axles may not be heavier than 80,000 pounds, including all enforcement tolerances, regardless of tire ratings, axle spacing (bridge), and number of axles.
  3. This section does not:
    1. authorize size and weight limits on the national system of interstate and defense highways in this state greater than those permitted under 23 U.S.C. Section 127, as amended;
    2. prohibit the operation of a vehicle or combination of vehicles that could be lawfully operated on a highway or road of this state on December 16, 1974; or
    3. apply to a vehicle or combination of vehicles that operates exclusively:
      1. at a private port of entry;
      2. on private roads associated with the port of entry; and
      3. across a public highway between private roads associated with the port of entry under a contract under Section 623.052.

Commission's Authority to set Maximum Weights (TRC 621.102)(Load Zoned Roads):

  1. The commission may set the maximum gross weight of a vehicle and its load, maximum gross weight of a combination of vehicles and loads, maximum axle load, or maximum wheel load that may be moved over a state highway or a farm or ranch road if the commission finds that heavier maximum weight would rapidly deteriorate or destroy the road or a bridge or culvert along the road. A maximum weight or load set under this subsection may not exceed the maximum set by statute for that weight or load.
  2. The commission must set a maximum weight under this section by order entered in its minutes.
  3. The commission must make the finding under this section on an engineering and traffic investigation and in making the finding shall consider the width, condition, and type of pavement structures and other circumstances on the road.
  4. A maximum weight or load set under this section becomes effective on a highway or road when appropriate signs giving notice of the maximum weight or load are erected on the highway or road under order of the commission.
  5. This section does not affect a law that authorizes or provides for a special permit for a weight heavier than the maximum weight provided by law.
  6. For the purpose of this section, a farm or ranch road is a state highway that is shown in the records of the commission to be a farm-to-market or ranch-to-market road.
  7. This section does not apply to a vehicle delivering groceries, farm products, or liquefied petroleum gas.

Local Weight Restrictions

County's authority to set Maximum Weights (TRC 621.301):

  1. The commissioners court of a county may establish load limits for any county road or bridge.
  2. The commissioners court may limit the maximum weights to be moved on or over a county road, bridge, or culvert by exercising its authority under this subsection in the same manner and under the same conditions provided by Section 621.102 for the commission to limit maximum weights on highways and roads to which that section applies.
  3. The commissioners court shall record an action under Subsection (b) in its minutes.
  4. A maximum weight set under this section becomes effective on a road when appropriate signs giving notice of the maximum weight are erected on the road under order of the commissioners court.
  5. This section does not affect a law that authorizes or provides for special permits for a weight heavier than the maximum weight provided by law.

Exception to County's Weight Limitations (TRC 621.302):

A maximum weight set under Section 621.301 does not apply to a vehicle delivering groceries or farm products to a destination requiring travel over a road for which the maximum is set.

Municipal Regulation of Loads and Equipment (TRC 621.303):

The governing body of any municipality may regulate the movement and operation on a public road, other than a state highway in the territory of the municipality, of:

  1. An overweight, oversize, or overlength commodity that cannot reasonable be dismantled; and
  2. super heavy or oversize equipment for the transportation of an overweight, oversize, or overlength commodity that cannot be reasonably dismantled.

Offenses And Penalties

Failure to carry or present Vehicle License Receipt (TRC 621.501):

  1. A person commits an offense if the person fails in violation of Section 621.002 to carry or present vehicle registration receipt.
  2. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200.

Prohibitions on Size and Weight; Restrictions on Construction and Equipment (TRC 621.502):

  1. A person may not operate or move a vehicle on a highway if:
    1. the vehicle's size is larger than the applicable maximum size authorized for that vehicle by this subtitle;
    2. the vehicle's weight, axle load, or wheel load is greater than the applicable weight or load authorized for that vehicle by this subtitle; or
    3. the vehicle is not constructed or equipped as re-quired by this chapter.
  2. The owner of a vehicle the size of which or the weight, axle load, or wheel load of which is greater than the applicable maximum size, weight, or load authorized for that vehicle by this subtitle or a vehicle that is not constructed or equipped as required by this chapter may not cause or allow the vehicle to be operated or moved on a highway.
  3. A person may not transport on a vehicle a load the size or weight of which is more than the applicable maximum size, weight, or load authorized for that vehicle by this subtitle.
  4. Intent to operate a vehicle at a weight that is heavier than the weight authorized by a permit issued under Sec-tion 623.011 is presumed if:
    1. the vehicle is operated at a weight that is heavier than the applicable weight plus the tolerance allow-ance provided by Section 623.011(a); and
    2. a permit to operate at that weight has not been issued for the vehicle.

Aid & Abet Law - Prohibition of Loading More Than Weight Limitation (TRC 621.503):

  1. A person may not load, or cause to be loaded, a vehicle for operation on a public highway of this state that exceeds the weight limitations for operation of that vehicle provided by Section 621.101.
  2. Intent to violate a limitation is presumed if the weight of the loaded vehicle is heavier than the applicable gross vehicular weight limit or axle load limit by 15 percent or more.
  3. This section does not apply to the loading of an agricultural or a forestry commodity before the commodity is changed in processing from its natural state.

Maximum Size and Weight of Containers (TRC 621.505) (Original Weight Law):

A person may not operate or move over a highway of this state, or an owner may not cause to be operated or moved over a highway of this state, a motor vehicle or combination of motor vehicles that has a product, commodity, good, ware, or merchandise that is in a container or binding that contains more than 30 cubic feet and weighs more than 500 pounds:

  1. more than 14 of those containers or bindings are being carried as a load on that vehicle or combination; or
  2. the load on the vehicle or combination exceeds 7,000 pounds.

Offense of Operating or Loading Overweight Vehicle; Penalty: Defense (TRC 621.506):

  1. A person commits an offense if the person:
    1. operates a vehicle or combination of vehicles in violation of Section 621.101; or
    2. loads a vehicle or causes a vehicle to be loaded in violation of Section 621.503.
  2. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable:
    1. by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $150;
    2. on conviction of an offense involving a vehicle having a gross weight that is more than 5,000 but not more than 10,000 pounds heavier than the vehicle's allowable gross weight, by a fine of not less than $300 or more than $500;
    3. on conviction of an offense involving a vehicle having a gross weight that is more than 10,000 pounds heavier than the vehicle's allowable gross weight, by a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,000; or
    4. on conviction before the first anniversary of the date of a previous conviction under this section, by a fine in an amount that is twice the amount specified by Subdivision (1), (2), or (3).
  3. On conviction of a violation of an axle load limitation, the court may assess a fine less than the applicable minimum amount prescribed by Subsection (b) if the court finds that when the violation occurred:
    1. the vehicle was registered to carry the maximum gross weight authorized for that vehicle under Section 621.101; and
    2. the gross weight of the vehicle did not exceed that maximum gross weight.
  4. A judge or justice shall promptly report to the Department of Public Safety each conviction obtained in the judge's or the justice's court under this section. The Department of Public Safety shall keep a record of each conviction reported to it under this subsection.
  5. If a corporation fails to pay the fine assessed on conviction of an offense under this section, the district or county attorney in the county in which the conviction occurs may file suit against the corporation to collect the fine.
  6. A justice court has jurisdiction of an offense under this section. A municipal court has jurisdiction of an offense under this section for which the fine does not exceed $500.
  7. A governmental entity that collects a fine under this section for an offense involving a vehicle having a gross weight that is more than 5,000 pounds heavier than the vehicle's allowable gross weight shall send an amount equal to 50 percent of the fine to the comptroller, unless the offense occurred within 20 miles of an international border in which event the entire amount of the fee shall be deposited for the purposes of road maintenance in:
    1. the municipal treasury, if the fine was imposed by a municipal court; or
    2. the county treasury, if the fine was imposed by a justice court.

General Offense Penalty (TRC 621.507):

  1. A person commits an offense if the person violates a provision of this subchapter for which an offense is not specified by another section of this subchapter.
  2. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable:
    1. by a fine not to exceed $200;
    2. on conviction before the first anniversary of the date of a previous conviction under this section:
      1. by a fine not to exceed $500, by confinement in a county jail for not more than 60 days, or by both the fine and confinement; or
      2. if the convicted person is a corporation, by a fine not exceed $1,000; or
    3. on a conviction before the first anniversary of the date of a previous conviction under this section that was punishable under Subdivision (2) or this subdivision:
      1. by a fine not to exceed $1,000, by confinement in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both the fine and confinement; or
      2. if the convicted person is a corporation, by a fine not to exceed $2,000.

Affirmative Defense for Operating Vehicle with Heavy Axle Load (TRC 621.508):

It is and affirmative defense to prosecution of, or an action under Subchapter F for, the offense of operating a vehicle with an axle load heavier than the axle load authorized by law that at the time of the offense the vehicle:

  1. had an axle weight that was not heavier than the axle load authorized by law plus 12 percent:
  2. was loaded with timber, pulp wood, wood chips, cotton, or agricultural products in their natural state; and
  3. was not being operated on a portion of the national system of interstate and defense highways.