Vehicle Overloading Penalties Explained


What are overloading penalties?

As it’s common practice to send industrial vehicles out at full capacity - understanding your vehicle’s weight and weight limits is essential to being fully compliant with current legislation.

The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires all businesses to ensure their vehicles are not overloaded, as overloading is not only a threat on the road but a harsh financial hazard to any business.

If found overloaded, these financial penalties are estimated on the severity of your overloading – which in some circumstances can be fatal to other drivers and your business. This includes harsh financial penalties, jailing your employees and huge damage to credibility as a business.

Shockingly, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) pulled over 174,000 industrial vans & vehicles in 2015, and only 10% of these vehicles were road worthy. This is because a small number of businesses are attempting to avoid weighing their lorry’s and vans in order to avoid paying.

Since then, the DVSA have been cracking down on vehicle overloading and the penalties for doing so have increased harshly.

So as a rule - businesses that send vehicles onto the road are accepting full responsibility for their cargo and the journey taken, this is also a responsibility shared with the driver of the vehicle.

How are penalties calculated?

All commercial vehicles in the UK are fitted with a manufacturers plate, this clearly indicates each axle point’s maximum gross weight. Exceeding any axle point’s maximum weight is classed as overloading.

Overloading penalties can range in severity depending on the the excess weight of your vehicle.

If a vehicle is suspected to be overweight, the DVSA or police have full authority to pull your vehicle over and conduct their own inspection.

It’s important to note that any weighings prior to the journey shall not be accepted, you must satisfy the DVSA or police officer’s inspection - this shall be conducted by their own portable axle weighing pads.

Firstly the vehicle is measured on it’s maximum gross weight. Below are the range of fines depending on the exceeded weight:

Vehicle overweight by:









Court Summons


This is only the initial fine. Upon prosecution, The vehicle is measured on each overloaded axle point and this can range up to £5000 per axle point.

As some vehicles have up to 6 axle points, this can then range up to £30,000. That’s excluding any court fees, transportation costs and additional insurance premiums.

Furthermore, the vehicle in question shall be prohibited from any further movement and clamped on the spot until some of the load has been moved or removed. This is duty of the deliverer to arrange and can be extremely costly for any business to arrange.

If that doesn’t scare you enough, large amounts of excess weight can alter the performance and handling of a vehicle - this is a serious offence and classed as dangerous driving.

As a result, the driver shall be criminally prosecuted of which usually ends with a prison sentence.

The risks truly outweigh the benefits. Remaining compliant towards vehicle weight is crucial for any business in the UK to continue operating.

What is the solution?

Any business which delivers or trades goods must adhere to trading standards and weigh their vehicles prior to their journey.

Investing in a weighbridge and/or axle pads protects your business and your employee’s interest from bad practices.

Weighing up the options of which products are right for your company can be costly.

For more information on if weighbridges are a fit for your business – see our recent blog on “Does My Business Need a Weighbridge?”

Solent Scales supplies a wide range of industrial weighing equipment and also provides hire and professional calibration services to a diverse number of industries.

Contact us for a friendly and professional assessment - to ensure your business if fully compliant and will not be costing your business with any unnecessary charges.

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