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California Commercial Truck Requirements

Commercial Truck Legal Requirements and Vehicle Regulations

All trucks are subject to state and federal laws and regulations to minimize accident risks. However, West Coast Trial Lawyers is aware that some truck drivers and commercial trucking companies will ignore safety laws in order to meet their deadlines and maximize profits.


A truck driver who is found in violation of California’s safety regulations and causes an accident may be liable to an injured driver for their losses. The majority of all truck accidents are caused by a truck driver who was not using reasonable care while driving or who was in violation of safety regulations. Below, our experienced truck accident attorneys have outlined information regarding the required safety regulations for trucks.

Interstate Commerce

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Title 49 CFR, Part 390.5, interstate commerce is defined as traffic, trade, or transportation in the United States that is between:

  1. A place within a state and a place outside of that state
  2. Two places within a state and through another state or a place not within the United States
  3. Two places within a state as part of trade, traffic, or transportation that begins or ends outside that state and even the country

The above definition is often thought of as the stream of interstate clauses. This clause is open to different interpretations and can be difficult to agree upon. For the most part,  interstate traffic is thought of as interstate commerce at least until it has reached its final destination.

Intrastate Commerce

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR) Title 49 CFR, Part 390.5, intrastate commerce is defined as trade, traffic, or transportation in any of the fifty states that is not covered under the rules of interstate commerce.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Regulations

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), Title 49 CFR, Part 390.5, a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is defined as a self-propelled or towed vehicle that is operated on a roadway in interstate commerce for the purposes of transporting property or passengers when that vehicle:

  • Has a GVWR or GCWR of 10,001 pounds or more,
  • Is made or utilized for transporting more than 8 passengers for compensation,
  • Is made or utilized to carry more than 15 passengers, but is not used to carry passengers for compensation, or
  • Is used to carry materials defined by the Secretary of Transportation as hazardous according to 49 U.S.C. 5103 and such materials are carried in an amount that requires placarding as stated in regulations set forth by the Secretary under 49 CFR, subtitle B, chapter 1, subchapter C.

Basic Requirements for CMV and CMV/CDL Trucks

Service Hour Requirements
There are limits to the number of hours a commercial vehicle driver can be “in service” according to Title 49 CFR, Part 395.3. For example, under Vehicle Code 21702 VC, it is a misdemeanor for a truck driver in the state of California to spend more than 12 consecutive hours on the road in a 24-hour period.

Service Hour Exceptions
Exceptions for service hour regulations only exist for emergencies.There are also exceptions for certain trades and vehicles that transport passengers.

Driver’s Maintenance Records
According to FMCSR, Title 49 CFR, Part 395.8, there are requirements and specific procedures for driver’s to document their service hours. There are also specific requirements for safekeeping service hour records. As with all regulations, there are exceptions to these timekeeping rules.

Commercial Vehicle Identification
Self propelled commercial vehicles need to be identified according to the FMCSR, Title 49 CFR Part 390.21.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact Us to Find Out How We Can Help

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a truck accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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