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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,alt.rv
Subject: Re: Licensed Weights vs. Actual Weights
Date: Tue, 04 Jul 2006 18:18:08 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 4 Jul 2006 09:18:07 -0400, "Steve Wolf" <> wrote:

>In Ohio it is standard operating procedure for a commercial vendor to lie
>about the weight of his truck on his registration application.  As the
>system isn't set up to read the VIN, the truck ends up with cheaper plates.
>The truck gets stopped and the weight on the registration is ignored.  The
>VIN provides the empty weight and the citation.  The owner becomes irate.
>The threat of an additional fraud charge and pulling plates normally gets
>him on his way with the realization he has to pay the full cost of the
>overweight or no-truck citation.  He can't argue the truck citation without
>getting into his fraud.
>So what?  Your RV is a truck in the eyes of the officer stopping you.  While
>you don't qualify for truck restrictions, having bogus weight numbers will
>ring a bell and raise an eyebrow.  It probably won't go anywhere.  RVers
>aren't desperatoes.

Do you know this to be fact or are you guessing.  The reason I
question this is that in TN it IS legal for one to buy a lower GVW
plate.  I know because I called the TDMV before I bought tags for my
cube van.  The van is rated at 21,000 lbs which would require an H3
tag if fully loaded and that tag costs over $300.  Because I knew that
I'd never be heavily loaded, using the truck only for catering, I
registered it with an H2 plate which "only" cost about $125.

When I hit the scales the truck is judged to be in compliance
according to the tag it has.  I'm measured against the H2 tag.

During that National Safety Day that I mentioned in another post, I
ran this scenario past the TDOT cop I was working with.  I wanted to
be sure, as I've gotten bad poop from the phone-answerers before.  He
confirmed that what I was told is what the enforcers enforce.

I'd not be surprised to find a state like OH to be more greedy in that
regard but at least in TN, what you call lying is actually accepted


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,alt.rv
Subject: Re: Licensed Weights vs. Actual Weights
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 01:41:20 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Tue, 4 Jul 2006 19:29:43 -0400, "Steve Wolf" <> wrote:

>The issue isn't registration.  In Ohio it appears no one cares what you say
>to the BMV.  The issue is what happens if vehicle weight becomes a factor.
>If the sign says "No trucks over 10,000 pounds" there aren't too many ways
>to interpret that.  In Ohio, no one is going to care what your registration
>says.  Whether or not you are allowed to lie on the weight isn't a question.
>If the empty weight from the VIN is over the 10,000 pounds, then the truck
>is over 10k empty and still over 10k loaded or not.  The driver can go in
>and say, "I told the BMV the truck was 7,500 pounds so I could run these
>roads illegally."  I'd like to watch if they do.

Wow, bet you've been saving that tangential spew for awhile.  Sorry to
have inadvertently knocked the chip off your shoulder.  Actually,
according to the post of yours that I replied to, the issue you
brought up IS registration.  What you said:

>In Ohio it is standard operating procedure for a commercial vendor to lie
>about the weight of his truck on his registration application.

I'm certainly not interested in discussing (arguing?) about low weight
restricted roads.  My interest in the discussion was the aspect of
being called a liar or law-breaker for registering my vehicle  in a
lower weight class than the GVW on the nameplate.

>I stand corrected on the registration.  The drivers are not "lying" when
>they get tags with weights lower than the capacity of their truck.  Here,
>compliance normally comes in the form of portable scales.

>Good and honest
>truck drivers are never overloaded.

Really?  Good stump speech but how does a "good and honest" driver
deal with it in the real world?  Let's say I'm loaded to 79,500 lbs to
leave a 500 lb margin of error and all my axle weights are correct.
Good and honest driver.  I'm trucking along through Indiana where the
max weight limit is 80,000 lbs and something happens - weather, road
work, etc - that forces me to detour through Illinois where the max
weight is only 73,280 lbs.  Am I suddenly a dishonest and bad driver?

I can't go around the state - neither the customer nor the company
would pay for that nor tolerate the delay.  I can't unload.  First,
the trailer is sealed and second, there isn't anyplace to put the
extra cargo.  Do I turn around and go back to the originating
terminal?  I'd be looking for a job the next day.

As the supreme judge of what is good and honest, what would you do,
Steve?  You're approaching the Illinois border as the driver of this
79,500 lb truck and you have to make a decision.  Something tells me
you'd do the same as any other driver, make the run through Illinois
while trying to avoid the coops.

Or how about the actual example given by another driver on another
list.  You're doing a multi-drop run.  You're loaded legal in the
state(s) you run in before the first drop and know from the bill of
lading that you'll be legal in the next states after you lose the
weight of the cargo at the first stop.  Problem is, the cargo for the
first stop is out of spec and the customer refuses it.  Pesky
customers have a way of doing that.  Now you're a little heavy for the
next state.  What do you as Steve the Perfect Driver do?

Or suppose you're in the kind of "drop and hook" service that I'm
going to be driving in where you drop a trailer off at a terminal and
hook to another already-loaded one.  These trailers are almost always
sealed against entry so as the driver, you cannot look inside.  The
bill of lading and the scales at the terminal exit confirm that
everything is OK.

Enroute, some dip-sh*t in an RV (just to keep this barely on-topic)
cuts you off, you have to hammer the brakes and the load shifts enough
to put you a little over-weight on one axle.  Yeah, I know, the cargo
isn't supposed to be loaded so that it can shift but spit happens and
warehouses are occupied with less-than-fully-caring employees
sometimes.  As good and honest a driver as you are, you have no way of
knowing that you're now in technical violation of the bridge law.  At
what point do you quit being a good and honest driver?  As the
formerly good and honest driver, do you still think that you should be
"screwed to the wall" at the next weigh station?  YOU and not the
trucking company nor the warehouse employees pay the fines and get the

>In Ohio the overloaded trucks and
>drivers are screwed to the walls.

Actually they're not.  See below.

>This is proper as overloaded trucks do
>too much damage to be tolerated.  The fines are civil judgments.  It gets
>really coercive after that.  It has nothing to do with greed.  It has
>everything to do with keeping unsafe trucks and unsafe drivers off Ohio
>highways.  It's a machine that eats bad trucks and bad drivers and produces
>compensation for damages they cause.

Are you sure you're not a politician?  That's the kind of empty
demagoguery that I expect out of a politician who never has to be
responsible for his words and deeds.

Nobody's talking about the prototypical speed-crazed dope fiend
running a truck that's 20,000 lbs heavy.  I, at least, am concerned
with the technical violations, the chicken-shit little things that
have no real-world effects but that greedy states use to siphon money
from people who have no representation or recourse - drivers.  The
"$500 for 500 lbs" fine that some states are famous for.

If it were not about greed then that front section of the Truckers
Atlas, the many pages that outline all the chicken-shit state rules,
would not exist.  There would be a uniform and easy-to-understand set
of rules for everyone.

If it's not about greed then why have the states with the abnormally
low weight limits fought so hard against federal standardization?  The
ISTEA would have done that had there not been so many howls from
states like OH that derive so much money from these technical

And if weight limits are purportedly only to minimize damage to the
highways then why are overweight permits so cheap (relatively
speaking, of course)?  The permit revenue isn't a drop in the bucket
if this highway damage boogeyman is really true. (For the
simple-minded, I'm not arguing that heavy trucks don't cause road
damage.  I'm arguing that the technical violations that make some
states so much money have an immeasurably small effect on pavement,
particularly relative to the fines charged.)

I wonder, Steve, how you'd have performed whatever job it was that you
did if you had to work under the same conditions as "good and honest"
drivers?  If the rules were set up so that harmless everyday
situations on the job were turned into Catch-22 revenue-grabbing
violations.  If you were held responsible for the work of others over
whom you have no control.  It's as if in the restaurant business
they'd made it against the law to serve food on a certain colored
plate but the prohibited color changed randomly day by day.

When I started the driving school, the instructor asked each of us to
state our goals.  I had several but one was to learn the trade
sufficiently well that I'd not have any hassles with the cops.  He
just laughed and smiled.  Now I understand why.

OK Steve, you cracked your gums and slandered a whole trade (I'll let
others argue whether it's a profession or not.)  Now let's see if
you're man enough to back up that slander with solutions to the
real-world problems I detailed above.


PS: I've been picking on OH for Steve's benefit but as things go with
truck weights, OH isn't bad, as one can see here:

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel,alt.rv
Subject: Re: Licensed Weights vs. Actual Weights
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 02:19:45 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 4 Jul 2006 17:17:36 -0700, "Rick Onanian"
<> wrote:

>Joe Bedford wrote:
>> My Ram 3500 was registered by the selling dealer at 4500kg GVWR. I
>> thought, "That's stupid - it should be rated at manufactrer's GVWR". So
>> I went down to the MOT and raised the registration to the higher
>> number. Then in fairly short order, I got pulled over TWICE WITHOUT THE
>> TRAILER ON, asking for my log books, etc. I said "What log books?" They
>> said "At that weight, you have to have a full set of books". I said "I
>WTF? How much weight before you need that crap? I thought it was at
>CDL-requirement weights, which I thought were 26,000 GVWR (for
>non-hazardous and non-human loads) and I don't know how big GCWR.
>In RI, I've never been hassled for that stuff while driving an F350
>dually 12' stake body dumper.

If you have a non-commercial tag and the truck is not in commercial
service (as defined by the feds) then you do NOT have to have all that
crap.  I asked that specific question of a TDOT enforcement commander.
I asked "what if I want to use an 18 wheeler as an oversized pickup
truck for my personal use".  His reply was that no matter what size
the vehicle, if it is not in commercial service then none of the
commercial truck laws apply.  An ordinary class D (passenger car)
license is all that is required.

The catch is, the "commercial service" definition is trivially easy to
run afoul of.  An example given was hauling a neighbor's furniture in
return for gas money.

I was particularly interested because I'm now using my 19,000 lb GVW
cube van as a big covered pickup truck and am thinking about building
a motorhome body on the chassis, similar to the heavy duty conversions
that many race car teams now use.  I don't have to have a DOT number,
nor a CDL nor do I have to have a truck tag.

I asked the commander what I should do about my truck since it "looks
commercial".  He suggested removing anything that looks "commercial"
(company logos, etc), removing the DOT number (I have), lettering the
side of the cab to say "private, non-commercial vehicle" (NOT the "not
for hire" that one frequently sees.  Whether the truck is for hire is
irrelevant.  Whether it is in commercial service is relevant.)  Then,
to avoid being chased down, go through the weigh stations and tell the
cop that the vehicle is private.

What probably got Joe was the commercial tag.  TN does not require a
commercial tag on any vehicle unless it is in commercial service but
other states do.  He got caught up in a "looks like" violation.  That
is, he looked too much like a commercial vehicle.

I learned several other interesting things by spending the day with
the truck enforcement cops during the National Safety Check day
recently and playing "20 questions":

* Any commercial vehicle over 10,000 lbs is subject to the commercial
vehicle rules including the requirement for keeping a log book and
observing hours of service if it is more than 150 miles from its home
base.  That includes the heavy duty pickup truck (with the H2 tag in
TN) towing a utility trailer with construction tools inside.  Also to
the guy who has a lawn service business who is trundling over to his
mom's house in the adjacent state to do her lawn.

* Rental trucks MUST go through the coops and be in compliance with
weight rules even when rented by private individuals.  The rental
companies tell you otherwise and most states don't enforce this but it
is one of those things that a chickensh*t cop can use to screw with
you if he wants.

* If the rental truck is over 21,000 lbs GVW and it is being used in
commercial service (hauling a race car to a race where money prizes
are awarded or hauling crafts to sell at a show are two things that
have triggered enforcement actions.) then the driver must have a CDL,
keep a log book and observe the hours of service rules.  That was a
new one on me.  The rental companies don't tell you that and don't
check for the CDL for straight trucks they rent but that's the law
that is enforced, at least by TDOT/TDS.

* If the rental truck has air brakes and is used in commercial service
then the driver must have a CDL with air brake endorsement.

These rules are another example where the government silently piles up
these mounds of chickensh*t rules that they don't normally enforce,
like water slowly gathering behind a dam, just waiting to hammer
someone who runs afoul of 'em.  You have to hope that you're not the
one fishing below the dam when it breaks.

* Something potentially useful to RVers.  Non-taxed ("farm") fuel may
be used for non-propulsion uses on road-going vehicles.  Reefers on
commercial trucks, for example.  Generators on RVs, as another
example.  I got this directly from the chief of TN's revenue
enforcement division.  If you live in a rural area like here where the
"farm diesel" fuel pump is right beside the regular one, it might be
worth the effort to install a separate tank for the generator.
Especially in high fuel tax states like TN.

I was previously under the impression that "farm fuel" could only be
used for agricultural purposes.  Not true.  Any non-highway-propulsion
use is permitted.  The chief did point out that in TN, if the fuel is
being used for a commercial purpose then sales tax must be paid on it
and that the user has to pay the tax to the state since it isn't
collected at the point of sale.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Trailer crackdown; anyone know anything about this?
Date: Thu, 07 Sep 2006 08:01:01 -0400
Message-ID: <>

brink wrote:
>> A friend of mine who was travelling thru Iowa (I'm assuming westbound on
>> I-80) called me to let me know he just got pulled over by Iowa State Patrol
>> as part of a *federal* (DOT) crackdown on trailer violations.  He lives in
>> Lincoln, NE and was on his way back home.
>> My friend has an SUV or van (can't remember which) and pulls a cargo trailer
>> that apparently has a capacity of greater than 10,000 pounds.  I know he
>> doesn't actually *haul* 10,000 lbs, but capacity is what counts and it seems
>> DOT was running what is tantamount to a sting where they were pulling over
>> *all* trailers into a rest area and checking out their paperwork -- or lack
>> thereof.
>> In my friend's case, the officer mentioned to him that he'll need to start
>> running paper logs, obtain a physical, etc.  There also seemed to be issues
>> with his registration and he'll be needing to "register" with different
>> states as he travels into them.  I'm fairly certain that in Nebraska one can
>> register one's cargo trailer as simply a "trailer," it's certainly not an RV
>> or anything like that.  Ironically, because it isn't an RV (and is much
>> smaller and lighter than one), it probably is more regulated.
>> I'm not sure what spurred the "sting"  -- homeland security, interstate
>> commerce, highway safety, or a combination thereof -- but I don't believe
>> I've ever heard of such a thing.  Anyone else?

There isn't anything new going on and it isn't the feds - fed DOT
doesn't have cops - that's left to the states.

What IS happening is another instance of a periodic spasm of greed by
the state that decided to rigidly enforce some little-appreciated
provisions of the federal commercial truck regulations in effect since
the big overhaul in the early 90s.

To grossly summarize a whole bunch of regulations, if you're engaged
in commercial activity and if your combined gross vehicle weight
rating is >9000 lbs then you must have commercial tags.  If the
combined gross weight is > 20,000 then you must have an endorsement on
your Class D license (NOT a CDL!)  This simply involves going to your
local driver license testing facility, taking a little test and
getting the endorsement.  If the CGVWR is above another figure (don't
have it instantly at hand but I believe it to be 29,000 lbs) then you
must have a Class B CDL license and that brings in the medical card
and the road testing.

If you are engaged in commercial service and are more than 150 miles
form home as the crow flies then you must keep a logbook and conform
to the hours of service rules.  Yes, that means that if you have an H1
(9000 lbs) tag on your pickup truck and you're doing work for
compensation 200 miles from home then you have to have a log and obey

You do NOT have to have any special license or obey any of the other
rules even if you're driving an 18 wheeler if it is not in commercial
service.  I confirmed this on in direct conversation with TN's Safety
Commissioner.  I've also participated in a "safety time out" day with
TDOT (what the OP probably got caught up in) and had >12 hours to
watch how the rules were enforced on hundreds of vehicles.  Yes they
did issue a log book warning ticket to a pickup truck driver pulling a
utility trailer full of lawn care tools.

As further confirmation of this, I recently re-tagged my 19,000 lb
cube van as non-commercial ($24 tag as opposed to >$100), as I now use
it only as a big covered pickup truck.  The tag office had to call the
state to confirm this to be legal.

Here's where the rub comes.  The definition of commercial service.
There were reports in Stock Car Magazine over 10 years ago of cops
pulling over hobbyist stock car racers and ticketing them for
non-compliance with the commercial truck laws.  They claimed that the
tiny value of even trophy prizes constituted "gainful compensation" or
whatever verbiage the law uses and therefore the truck and trailer was
in commercial service.  There were reports from the Midwest of assault
teams of cops setting up outside race tracks and nailing every driver
who emerged.

They were also ticketing the stock car guys for HAZMAT violations
because they were carrying gasoline in ordinary gas cans but weren't
placarded and because they didn't have HAZMAT endorsements on their
licenses.  This is a BIG fine (minimum $500 in TN.)

They were also nailing people for non-compliance with marker light
laws.  The law is explicit in detail about where the marker lights
must be on both the truck and trailer and most utility trailers are

I discussed this definition of commercial service with the TN Safety
Commissioner in some detail when I had the opportunity, knowing the
history in some other states.  I asked specifically, "what if I use my
truck to help a friend move his furniture in return for some cold beer
afterward?"  His reply was that yes, technically that would be
commercial service, although TN didn't enforce to that level.

Other activities that put you in commercial service include doing
craft and art shows where sell wares, BBQ cook-offs, ushering or
security service for outdoor events, civil war re-enactments where
trophies or other goods of value are awarded and so on.  I didn't ask
but I bet that work-camping and CG hosting would fall into that

This is the embodiment of the old chinese adage "Be careful for what
you wish for, you may get it."  This is the result of all those calls
to "stick it to those *sshole 18-wheelers".  Well, they did (although
we've developed systems to live with the new regs) but in the process
they wrote laws that can be used to screw just about anyone when they
want to.  When the state decides to get greedy or the cop just doesn't
like your looks, you're screwed.  The commercial truck laws are only a
small portion of the laws on the books that are selectively enforced.

Disclaimer: Yeah, I drive an 18-wheeler for a living.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Trailer crackdown; anyone know anything about this?
Date: Sat, 09 Sep 2006 15:35:47 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On 7 Sep 2006 08:03:29 -0700, "Rick Onanian"
<> wrote:

>Neon John wrote:
>> They were also ticketing the stock car guys for HAZMAT violations
>> because they were carrying gasoline in ordinary gas cans but weren't
>> placarded and because they didn't have HAZMAT endorsements on their
>> licenses.  This is a BIG fine (minimum $500 in TN.)
>Eek! What does this mean for a carpenter bringing a can of gas for his

Nothing if he's intrastate.  If he's traveling interstate then he
better buy his gas in the destination state.  Or be carrying the fuel
in a DOT approved container (if you have to ask you can't afford it.)
Federal DOT laws do not apply for intrastate travel, for the most
part.  That's how a driver who is disqualified for a CDL (diabetes,
high blood pressure, etc) can still drive a truck intrastate.

The odds are with you that even interstate you won't be bothered
simply because the cops have better fish to fry than stopping a pickup
truck.  Where you get burned is when they set up one of these fee
grabs where EVERYONE driving anything other than a passenger car has
to go through the coops.  At the checkpoint I worked at (under the
doctrine that it is best to know thine enemy), they picked out every
4th or 5th vehicle for detailed inspection.  Plus anything that looked

Anytime I have a question I email TN Dept of Safety and request an
opinion.  They may get it wrong and I may get burned but I have an
affirmative defense in that advice.  At least according to my lawyer.
Haven't had to test it yet.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Weigh scales?
Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2007 16:59:39 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Fri, 02 Feb 2007 19:20:15 GMT, "Tom  J" <>

>> When you get to a CAT scale. it will still give you three axle
>> weights, but for the 8+$ they will even add it up for you.  Many
>> truckers need the individual axle weights if their load is close to
>I should have added - for a small fee, usually a couple of dollars,
>they will give you a re-weigh. What you can do with the re-weigh is,
>unhook the trailer and weigh the truck only and then you have all the
>weights - truck only - truck only subtracted from the 1st total weight
>= total trailer weight.

Yep.  Current fees are $8.50 for first weigh and $1 for reweigh within
24 hours.  They ask for the first weigh's ticket number.

Interstate scales is a small competitor to CAT that shows up in some
independent truck stops.  Usually around $6 first weigh and sometimes
free second weigh or 50 cents.  Have to compete with CAT :-)

Flying J has its own scale system.  I haven't used one in years but I
think it's the same price as CAT.

CAT scales are remarkably accurate.  I've checked a couple of times.
Once by stepping off the scales for the reweigh.  It subtracted my
weight to within a few lbs.  Another time I refueled between weighs.
It showed the same weight as I computed from the gallons purchased.

Some trucking companies and significant shippers have their own
scales.  Sometimes one can mooch a weigh.  In my area, Bowaters
Calhoun and Jackie Evans Trucking in Cleveland, TN have convenient
private scales.  A paper mill almost always has scales and sometimes
they're outside the security perimeter - anyone can drive up and

Yet another free weigh may be at the local landfill.  Our local one
charges by weight.  They weigh in and out.  Only total vehicle weight
though.  Usually I can get a print from the guy when going in.
Sometimes I have to go in, toss something in the community dumpster
and go out to get the ticket "officially".  The first 750 lbs is free
so I can dump my garbage at the same time.


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