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Photo: French police stop van carrying everything plus kitchen sink

The van also had tyres, bikes and stepladders in a net on its roof. French authorities can issue fines to drivers of overloaded vehicles

Gendarmes in Hérault stopped a van which had tyres, bikes, stepladders and a sink held in a bulging net on its roof. Photo for illustration only Pic: Obatala-photography / Shutterstock

French police have published a photograph of a small van they stopped on the A9 motorway in Occitanie, carrying what looked like almost a houseful of objects in a net on its roof. 

Tyres, stepladders, bikes and a sink were all balanced on top of the vehicle, held in place by ropes and netting.

“Despite the excellent catch that our road delinquent seems to have made on this day, our gendarmes [...] were obliged to crack down [on them],” Hérault’s gendarmerie wrote in a statement published on social media. 

The van was towed away and its driver received a penalty for overloading it. 

The gendarmerie also stated that it is an offence to travel in a car carrying too much weight, with a fine of €135 served to those whose weight excess does not exceed 5%. 

People who are carrying 5-20% excess weight will receive a €135 fine, will be prevented from driving their vehicle and will have their carte grise taken away until they remove the weight.

For a vehicle whose weight is more than 20% over what it should be, the fine rises to €1,500, and the carte grise confiscation is accompanied by a court summons for the driver. 

“We all agree that finding oneself in this type of situation is not the best way to finish a holiday…or to start one,” the gendarmes said.

In addition to the potential fines, the drivers of overloaded vehicles may also see their insurance invalidated in the event of an accident.

How do I know how much weight my car can carry?

In France, the poids total autorisé en charge (PTAC) is the maximum weight that a vehicle can safely hold, and is decided by the manufacturer. It includes the baseline vehicle weight, plus any additional people and objects inside.

You will be able to find out more about it in your carte grise

The heavier a vehicle becomes, the more qualified a driver must be, which is why there are penalties for overloading a car or small van.

People with a permis B, for smaller vehicles like cars and campervans, should not exceed 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes). 

Beyond this weight, drivers must obtain a mention additionnelle 96, which requires seven hours of training for operating heavier vehicles.

You can find out more about the PTAC here.

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