Virginia’s law enforcement will sometimes improperly invalidate a motor carrier’s hauling permit if they find the motor carrier has violated a term in the permit. However, under the Virginia Code and the Virginia Hauling Permit Manual published by the Department of Motor Vehicles permit invalidation is frequently not the appropriate sanction.
To illustrate, consider the following case our firm defended. A motor carrier was hired to transport a large refrigeration unit from a Norfolk naval base to its manufacturer in Pennsylvania. The carrier obtained a permit that would allow it to transport 100,000 pounds. The carrier had transported similar units along the same route in the past and its drivers knew to ensure all the water had been drained out of the unit before it was loaded on the truck. On this occasion the driver forgot to check to see if the water was drained. The shipment had a total weight of 101,540 pounds, 1,540 pounds over the weight it was permitted to transport. When the carrier was stopped at a weigh station and the oversight discovered, the State Trooper invalidated the hauling permit. In computing the citation he charged the carrier for every pound over the 80,000 pound max weight trucks can carry in Virginia without a permit resulting in a $21,500 fine.
In this case, the Trooper’s actions were improper. Virginia law does not allow him to invalidate the underlying hauling permit when computing the sanction. See Virginia Code § 46.2-1139(D). If a police officer discovers a carrier has violated a term in its hauling permit, the officer may invalidate the weight allowed under the permit only if the carrier is: (1) operating off the permitted route (2) the vehicle has fewer axles than required by the permit (3) the vehicle has less axle spacing than what is required by the permit and (4) the vehicle is transporting multiple items not allowed by the permit.
Virginia police officers may not be able to invalidate a hauling permit for the violation of its terms, but they can inflict serious expense on a motor carrier by holding it in place until its vehicle and shipment is in compliance.
Motor carriers need to ensure that they closely read all the terms and conditions listed on any Virginia hauling permit issued to them. As the two cases discussed illustrate,the potential penalties for not doing so are serious. If your company has received a citation, contact us. Our firm has the knowledge and experience to defend you.