An overweight citation can be extremely problematic for motor carriers in Virginia. These citations carry harsh fines and penalties and can be extremely costly for carriers.
An overweight citation is issued when a carrier is operating a vehicle on Virginia highways and the vehicle’s weight exceeds the statutory weight limits. (No vehicle can travel on Virginia highways with a single axle weight in excess of 20,000 pounds, tandem axle weight in excess of 34,000 pounds, or a gross weight in excess of 80,000 pounds.) Va. Code § 46.2-1133 provides a tight deadline in which carriers can elect to contest the overweight citation and motor carriers should know exactly what to do in the event they are faced with an overweight citation in Virginia.
Upon receiving an overweight violation, the officer or compliance agent will typically serve the vehicle’s operator with the overweight citation, but the citation itself is directed to the carrier.
After receiving an overweight citation in Virginia, the owner or operator has 21 days after service upon the driver to either: (1) provide written notice of the carrier’s election to contest the citation in court; or (2) make full payment of the total amount accessed to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”). See Va. Code § 46.2-1133. Note, DMV only collects payment for Virginia overweight citations and cannot waive or adjust the citation amount.
To Pay or Not to Pay?
An operator can elect to pay the citation by remitting payment for the total amount of the citation which includes civil penalties, liquidated damages, weighing fees, and processing fees. Before electing to pay the citation however, carriers should consider whether the ticket is for a repeat violation. Repeat violations can be costly and can impact the company’s reputation. Therefore, carriers should request a copy of their Overweight Citation Transcript from the DMV and be familiar with same when considering whether to pay or contest the overweight citation.
An operator may contest the ticket by checking the box indicating that the carrier elects to contest the overweight citation. If the carrier choses to contest the citation, DMV will forward the case to the General District Court of the jurisdiction where the citation was received, and the case will be set for trial. An alleged weight violation which is contested will be tried as a civil case and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will represent the interests of the Commonwealth.
It is imperative that carriers take action within the 21-day window. Failure to contest the citation within the 21-day window will result in a default judgment against the carrier in the full amount listed in the citation and suspension of the driver’s right to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia, as well as the potential of increased penalties. See Virginia Code § 46.2-1133.
Other Considerations to Avoid Overweight Citations
Overweight citations adhere to a strict deadline and can be extremely costly for carriers. If faced with an overweight citation in Virginia, it is highly recommended that carriers be proactive in their defense and consult with an experienced attorney.
For questions or comments, please feel free to contact Cindy S. Foster (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 804-377-1275 or Steve Setliff (email@example.com) at 804-377-1261.