Commercial vehicles in Texas are subject to a great deal of regulation. Weight, equipment on the vehicle itself, identifying markings and the transportation of hazardous materials are all strictly regulated. As a commercial vehicle operator, it’s critical to understand these many, complex regulations. It’s also important to understand your rights and how to respond if you’re charged with violating a law.
Commercial Vehicle Regulations in Texas
What is a commercial vehicle in Texas?
A commercial vehicle is a vehicle that is used primarily for transporting goods or passengers that:
- Has a gross combination weight or gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds including a towed unit with gross vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds
- Has a gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds
- Is for transporting 16 or more passengers
- Transports hazardous materials
Usually, commercial vehicles are used for conducting business and transporting goods, like semi-trailers, passenger vans and hazmat vehicles. Commercial vehicles are subject to special regulations and licensing in Texas and throughout the United States. Vehicles are classified by their weight, and special endorsements are required depending on the specific type of vehicle and its use.
What is the legal definition of a commercial motor vehicle in Texas?
Texas law § 621.001(1) defines a commercial motor vehicle as a motor vehicle designed or used for transportation of property or delivery. Motorcycles are not commercial vehicles.
Who regulates trucking in Texas?
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDOT) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulate trucking in the State of Texas. Registration requirements vary depending on whether the commercial vehicle is for intrastate use (use entirely within Texas), or interstate (involving multiple states).
Many regulations for trucking and commercial vehicles come from the Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1991 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The U.S. government creates laws and a monitoring system for commercial vehicle use. The State of Texas implements and passes state laws that comply with these regulations. A violation of commercial vehicle law may involve state law, federal law or both sets of regulations.
Improper Identifying Marks on a Commercial Vehicle
Chapter 642 of the Texas Transportation Code requires certain commercial vehicles to have distinct markings on the vehicle while it is on the road.
It is an offense under § 642.002(a) if a person operates a:
- Commercial motor vehicle with three or more axles
And doesn’t have the required markings. The required markings are:
- Markings required by 49 CFR 390.21, on each side
- The name of the owner or operator
- Clearly legible letters and numbers at least two inches tall
- Motor carrier registration number, clearly legible
In addition, § 642.002(b) requires a tow truck operating on the road to have its city of place of business on each side of the vehicle, along with the phone number with area code and all of the other marking requirements.
What is the penalty for a violation of § 642.002, improper markings on a commercial vehicle?
A violation of § 642.002, improper markings on a commercial vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor.
Who can be charged under § 642.002, improper markings on a commercial vehicle?
The person who operates or someone who allows another to operate in violation of the law may be charged for a violation of § 642.002.
What are the exceptions to § 642.002 markings requirements?
Exceptions to the § 642.002 commercial vehicle marking requirements include:
- Vehicles registered under 502.433 as commercial farm vehicles
- When a vehicle must be registered under Natural Resources Code 113.131
- Operation as a private carriage under 49 C.F.R. 390.21
- Vehicles under the control and supervision of a public authority if they are marked accordingly
- Transporting timber products from the point of harvest
Hazardous Marking Violations – 49 C.F.R. Part 172 Subpart D
U.S. Department of Transportation laws create marking requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials. Required labels must be durable, printed in English and affixed to the appropriate surface. Colors must be contrasting so that people can easily read it. There may not be other labels or attachments that obscure the required markings or make them confusing. See 49 C.F. R. § 172.304.
- 49 C.F. R. § 172.300 – Anyone who ships a hazardous material must label it appropriately. Federal law creates requirements for the labeling of hazardous materials for shipping. The carrier that transports the package must mark it as required.
- 49 C.F. R. § 172.301 – Non-bulk packaging must have proper shipping names and identification numbers. Characters for labeling must meet minimum size requirements. The law lists requirements for large quantities of a single material that are not shipped in bulk packaging.
- 49 C.F. R. § 172.302 – Bulk packaging labels must meet minimum size requirements.
- 49 C.F. R. § 172.303 – It is unlawful to transport a package with hazardous labels unless the package contains those hazardous materials or residue. There are some exceptions.
A person or corporation who violates regulations for transportation of hazardous materials faces civil penalties. The person or entity charged has a right to notice and an opportunity to be heard.
Operation of a Vehicle at a Weight Greater than Stated in Registration Application – Texas Transportation Code § 621.506, § 502.412
Commercial vehicles must be registered in the State of Texas. It is an offense to operate or permit a vehicle to operate at a weight greater than what is stated in the application for registration. Each use of the vehicle is a separate offense. Prosecution may occur in any county where the vehicle is operated with the improper weight.
What are Texas laws for registration of commercial vehicles?
Texas Administrative Code § 216.46 regulates the registration of commercial vehicles. The law creates standards for determining vehicle weight and restrictions.
How much is the fine for an overweight truck in Texas?
The fine for an overweight truck in Texas varies from $100 to $10,000 depending on the number of pounds the vehicle is overweight. In addition, multiple offenses in a one-year period can result in a double penalty, and there are other reasons that a fine may be enhanced.
The courts must report conviction records to the Texas Department of Public Safety. If a corporation fails to pay a fine, the district or county attorney may file a suit to collect the fine.
What do G.V.W.R and G.C.W.R. have to do with overweight vehicle tickets?
G.V.W.R. and G.C.W.R. values play a role in the classification of commercial vehicles for a variety of purposes. Texas divides vehicles into classes based on their weight ratings. G.V.W.R. stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. It is the manufacturer-designated loaded weight of a single vehicle. The Gross Combination Weight Rating is the maximum weight of a vehicle and its attached trailer. These ratings determine weight limits and whether a vehicle is overweight for the purposes of a ticket.
Commercial Vehicle Noise Emission Standards – 49 C.F.R. § 325.1
Certain commercial vehicles are subject to noise emissions regulations. 49 C.F.R. § 325.7 sets allowable noise levels for highway operation and while stationary. Noise levels are measured by the distance between the microphone location point and the target. Readings are in decibels. 49 C.F.R. § 325.9 accounts for measurement tolerance levels resulting from topography, atmospheric conditions and reflected sound from small objects within the test site.
Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation – Commercial Vehicle Violations – 49 C.F.R. §393.1
Federal regulations create requirements for parts and accessories used in the operation of commercial vehicles. The stated requirements are minimum standards for covered motor carriers. Additional equipment is allowed (49 C.F.R. §393.3). The law contains definitions of various parts and materials as qualifying equipment.
Step, Handhold and Deck Requirements for Commercial Motor Vehicles – 49 § C.F.R. 399.201
Federal laws create health and safety standards for the benefit of commercial vehicle drivers. The standards govern egress and entrance from the cab of truck and truck-tractors. Truck health and safety access requirements include sufficient steps, handholds, and deck plates to allow the user to have three limbs in contact with the truck. The rule includes during transition periods and intermediate positions. These requirements are intended to allow drivers to enter and exist safely from the vehicle.
Attorneys for Commercial Vehicle Violations
A commercial vehicle violation may result in a large fine and other penalties. However, you can fight back. You have a right to notice of the allegations against you. You may present a defense and have representation from an experienced attorney. Our attorneys for commercial vehicle violations can help.
Let us put our experience to work for you. With 50 years of combined experience, we’ve helped thousands of clients address simple and complex legal issues. Commercial vehicle violations can cost time and money. You deserve experienced legal representation at an affordable cost.
You have a limited amount of time to assert your rights. We offer full-service legal representation for individuals and corporations facing commercial vehicle violations. Contact us today to review your case and begin.