Legal Axle Weight Limits for Trucks: Heavy Haul Weight Limits by State

by | Mar 27, 2024

Legal truck axle weight limits are complex factors interwoven into heavy haul trucking, including 53′ trailer operations. These are often stipulated elements, with significant regulations varying from state to state concerning commercial truck axle weight limits and semi-axle weights. This article details semi-truck axle weight limits, including maximum gross weights allowed, specific overweight allowed on specific axles such as double axle trailer weight capacity, and state-specific regulations.

What is the maximum weight a semi-truck can have?

Generally, by federal law, the maximum gross weight allowed per axle of a semi-truck and a 53′ trailer is limited to 80,000 pounds. This weight limit serves to standardize the truck weight within which the interstate highway system operates so that truck weight limits, by axle, conform to safety and infrastructure preservation standards.

What Is the Weight Limit for Steer and Semi’s Drive Axles?

When discussing semi-axle weights, it’s important to note that the steer axle limit is generally set at 12,000 pounds. The drive axles and trailer axles, crucial for calculating the axle weights for a tractor-trailer, have a limit of 34,000 pounds each when spaced adequately according to the federal bridge formula. This formula is critical in determining weight per axle for semi trucks, ensuring the distribution minimizes road and bridge wear.

Important State Axle Weight Limits

State-specific regulations can be more restrictive or allow for heavier loads, impacting the axle weights on semi-trucks. For example, the double axle trailer weight capacity might vary, highlighting the importance of understanding trucking weight limits by state. These variations necessitate a comprehensive truck axle weight chart for interstate operations to ensure compliance and avoid penalties.

Trucking DOT Weight Limits by State

The Department of Transportation (DOT) enforces unique weight limits and regulations for trucks in each state. In the United States, while the standard maximum gross weight limit for trucks is approximately 80,000 pounds, several states allow higher limits under specific conditions or with special permits. Here are the states that stand out due to their higher weight allowances:

  • Idaho: Up to 105,500 pounds with special permits.
  • Michigan: Allows up to 164,000 pounds with specific axle configurations.
  • Washington: Permits up to 105,500 pounds with special permissions.
  • Wyoming: Also known for allowing weights up to 117,000 pounds on Interstate 80 with special permits.

The exceptions are, of course, meaningful to the haulers with operations or transits through these states in such a manner that they could offer a more efficient carriage to the delivery points naturally subject to the fulfillment of the regulations and road safety checks.


Understanding the legal axle weight limits for trucks, including the nuances of semi truck axle weight and the federal bridge formula, is essential for compliance in the heavy haul industry. By staying informed about state-specific regulations and ensuring adherence to commercial truck axle weight limits, trucking companies can avoid penalties, contribute to road safety, and ensure the longevity of the nation’s roads and bridges.

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