"Just curious but do any of the armchair lawyers know the legal ramification of driving a vehicle that is over its posted weight limit? I think the sticker on the door says 9650 and even if we emptied all of the gear out of the van we would probably still be over."
I'm not giving legal advice, laws vary by state, the engineers who designed your vehicle are very smart, and you need to consult with your own attorney but...speaking strictly hypothetically....and focusing only on legal ramifications and not addressing the safety of you or others on the road...
-Knowingly exceeding your stated capacity may:
-Violate state civil laws giving rise to a civil fine.
-Violate state criminal laws thereby giving rise to criminal prosecution which may result one of a variety of penalties (monetary penalties, imprisonment, etc.). Worst case-you lose control of your vehicle, hit a church bus, and 3 children are killed. A jury may find that the loss of control was due, in whole or in part, to the excess weight. It is possible that you would be charged with something like manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. If convicted, bad things happen. In addition, you may go through the rest of your life as a convicted felon. This has various ramifications.
-Give rise to a civil lawsuit for monetary damages. This can occur in addition to a criminal prosecution.
-Void your insurance coverage. This is important. Your policy may (probably does) require that you operate and maintain your equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications. If this happens, and you lose a civil suit, your assets are at risk of being used to settle the judgment against you. Also, if you had a less serious accident in which your vehicle was trashed but no one was hurt, you might be denied coverage for the loss.
That's just off the top of my head. I may have missed a couple.
The only solution I can think of is to find a way to raise the rating on your vehicle. This would involve upgrading the parts with the lowest rating. I suspect the limitations on your gross weight are related to the tires and suspension. An engineer might be willing to certify you for your current weight. Sportsmobile or Quigley would know.
Hope that helps.
(root beer) (all of the above gets more complicated if alcohol is involved)