Weigh stations are generally used by commercial truck drivers, but, in some cases, large vehicles like moving trucks and RVs may be required to stop and use them as well. You can find a nearby weigh station using a website or app like Trucker Path. Below, we have the details about which vehicles need to use weigh stations, the laws governing mandatory weighing, and how to find a weigh station near you.
How Do Weigh Stations Work?
A weigh station is typically a permanent location with large scales that are used to find the total weight of a vehicle. Most weigh stations use rolling, weight-in-motion scales, which measure the weight of the vehicle as slowly it drives over them to ensure that the truck meets safety standards. The central purpose of weigh stations is to ensure that commercial vehicles don’t exceed the maximum allowable on-the-road weight of 80,000 pounds.
The laws for weigh stations vary by state. When a weigh station is open, all vehicles that meet a state’s requirements for inspection must pull in to be weighed. In most states, only commercial vehicles are required to pull in to active weigh stations, but, in some states, all vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds must check-in. This can include moving trucks, vehicles with tow-behinds, RVs, and campers.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) provides a state-by-state list of weigh station motor laws to help you figure out if you’ll need to pull into a weigh station. If you’re on the road and unsure, you can pull over just in case; an attendant will wave you through if no measurement is necessary.
What Are the Different Types of Weigh Stations?
There are three main types of weigh stations, each with different uses:
- Department of Transportation (DOT) scales: Also known as truck scales, DOT scales are permanent or temporary checkpoints set up by the Department of Transportation to enforce vehicle weight laws and regulations. DOT scales are the type most people are familiar with.
- CAT scales: Using a CAT scale gives commercial drivers additional protection against overweight fines and violations. CAT scales provide certified weight tickets and a guarantee that if a vehicle is ticketed after being certified, CAT will either pay the fine or appear in court as a witness for the driver to get the ticket dismissed. CAT charges a small fee for its weighing services.
- Certified public scales: Also called certified truck scales, public scales are free and primarily used by drivers who need to obtain a Motor Vehicle Registration Weighmaster Weight Certificate (required for some passenger trucks in the state of California) or relocating military personnel who need to obtain empty and full weights for moving trucks during a Personally Procured Move (PPM).
Where to Find a Weigh Station
Various websites and apps can help you find a weigh station near you, no matter what type you need. We’ve listed the weigh station websites and apps (categorized by the type of scales) to help you find your nearest weigh station:
- Jack Reports: Free app with weigh station maps, real-time open/closed weigh station notifications, roadside and rest area inspection reports, and more. Available for iOS and Android.
- Trucker Path: Free app and website that locates all DOT weigh stations and notifies commercial drivers whether an upcoming weigh station is open or closed. It also provides locators for truck stops, fuel stations, parking, truck washes, and more. Available iOS, Android, and on the web.
- CATScale.com: The official online CAT scale locator.
- CAT Scale Locator: An app that lists all CAT scale locations and allows you to save your favorite location. Available for iOS and Android.
- Weigh My Truck: An app that allows you to weigh your truck and pay for the transaction using your smartphone. Available for iOS and Android.
Certified Public Scales
- Penske Public Scale Locator: Includes a locator map for weigh stations.
- PublicScales.org: Includes maps of certified public scales for DMV weight certificates and military weight certificates.
What Happens If You Don’t Stop at a Weigh Station?
Each state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for weigh station inspections. Weigh stations are typically staffed by state patrol officers who work for the DOT. If a vehicle bypasses an open weigh station, an officer will typically follow the vehicle and have the driver return to the weigh station.
Drivers may be fined for failure to stop at a weigh station when required, including moving trucks and RVs. They may also be subject to a full inspection of the vehicle in addition to weighing in, which can result in more fines and violations.
For commercial truck drivers, failure to stop at a weigh station can result in greater consequences. In addition to fines, if the vehicle or driver violates safety laws, the driver may lose his or her commercial license, and the company the driver works for may be fined or penalized.
Who Needs to Stop at Weigh Stations?
Most states only require commercial vehicles to stop at active weigh stations, but, in some locations, moving trucks and RVs also need to stop.
- Commercial trucks: Must stop at open weigh stations in every state. Drivers with weigh station bypass technology like PrePass or Bestpass can sometimes skip automated weigh stations. However, even with bypass technology, some weigh stations may require every commercial vehicle to pass through, such as the temporary checkpoints with portable scales located in Alabama, Kansas, and other states.
- Moving trucks: In states that require all vehicles over 10,000 pounds to use weigh stations, 14-foot moving trucks and up should stop at open weigh stations. For example, a Penske 26-foot truck has a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), or fully loaded weight, of 20,000 to 26,000 pounds. Moving Labor provides a chart of GVW ranges for various size moving trucks.
- Campers and RVs: According to an article on Camper Report, the average weight of an RV is 12,000 to 15,000 pounds, with a general range of 7,000 to 20,000 pounds. Campers and RVs should stop at weigh stations in states that require vehicles over 10,000 pounds to stop.
- Relocating military personnel: Members of the military who are relocating to a new base with a Personally Procured Move (PPM), formerly called a Do It Yourself move, need to use public scales to obtain weight tickets for both the empty and full weight of their moving truck so they can be reimbursed for the cost of the load at the new base.
There are many websites and apps that can help you locate a nearby weigh station. We included a list about broken by type of scale. The majority of weigh stations are used by commercial truck drivers, but you may need to stop at open weigh stations or find a public weigh station if you are driving a moving truck or RV through multiple states, or if you are in the military and relocating to a new base.