TUNNEL HEIGHT VIOLATION
If you drive a tractor trailer, be careful not to violate Virginia’s height restrictions on your truck. Protect your CDL license!
The applicable statute on overheight violations is Virginia Code § 46.2-1110, which states that:
No loaded or unloaded vehicle shall exceed a height of 13 feet, six inches.
The penalties for violating this statute are harsh. This is especially the case if you attempted to take your tractor trailer through a tunnel, which makes the charge a misdemeanor offense in Virginia. We find this strict liability law overly harsh and wish the legislature would fix it.
In cities such as Hampton, optical sensors are installed at tunnel entrances to identify vehicles that exceed Virginia’s overhead clearance regulation. This is often enforced at the westbound entrance to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. If you received a summons for over-height violation, perhaps for Hampton General District Court, check to see if the word tunnel is on the summons.
If “tunnel overheight violation” is written on the summons then it’s likely you were charged with the misdemeanor charge. If the word “tunnel” is not on the summons, you should still make sure the clerks entered your summons correctly into their computer system. You can look at the court website to see if your charge is listed as a misdemeanor or traffic infraction.
If is not uncommon for us to talk to truck drivers that find out they are facing a misdemeanor. You may be facing a criminal charge because the load on your truck shifted inadvertently as you drove your 18-wheeler for your employer. We have represented clients for being a half-inch (1/2) more than the 13′, 6” limit. It is imperative that you protect your CDL and your livelihood if you are facing this charge.
Penalties for a tunnel height violation:
Penalties for a height violation are harsh. A conviction would be a misdemeanor and the mandatory minimum fine is $1,000 for a first offense!
Any person who drives or attempts to drive any vehicle or combination of vehicles into or through any tunnel when the height of such vehicle, any vehicle in a combination of vehicles, or any load on any such vehicle exceeds that permitted for such tunnel, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, in addition, shall be assessed three driver demerit points. In addition, the driver of any such vehicle shall be fined $1,000, of which $1,000 shall be a mandatory minimum. For subsequent offenses, the owner of any such vehicle shall be fined $2,500, of which $2,500 shall be a mandatory minimum.