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Street Legal Lift Laws

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Ben Brazda | Writer
Posted November 1, 2010

What You Need To Know About Street Legal Laws

The legality of off-road vehicle modifications varies significantly from state to state and this disparity causes much confusion to off-road enthusiasts. Street-legal laws range from practically non-existent in some states to extremely restrictive in others. Additionally, the degree to which these laws are enforced can vary depending on the county in which the vehicle is driven and a police officer's interpretation of the law. Ultimately, the consequences of violating such laws can be as minor as a verbal warning or as severe as being refused coverage by an auto insurance company after an accident.

Those considering modifications to their vehicles should first familiarize themselves with their state's vehicle modification laws. While one would think that finding the street-legal laws for any given state should be easy, that has not always been the case. Internet searches on the subject will produce a large number of resources; however, much of the information listed on these sites is outdated or incorrect. In an effort to provide the off-road community with a trustworthy source of information on the subject, LiftLaws.com was created.

It took over a hundred hours of sifting through the laws, codes, and statutes for all 50 states to complete LiftLaws.com. The reason this process took so long is because many states have poorly organized and unsearchable laws that make finding this information extremely burdensome. As a courtesy to visitors, LiftLaws.com references the appropriate code sections for each law.

There is no doubt that every effort must be made to keep vehicles driven on highways and public roads in compliance with state laws. Unfortunately, many states have laws that are unreasonably restrictive, which results in many 4x4 owners taking their chances by turning a blind eye towards the law.

One risk of driving a vehicle that does not comply with state laws is attracting the attention of police. While most law enforcement officers have more important things to do than pull over a Jeep for having a lifted suspension and oversized tires, it does give them an excuse to do so if they desire.

When an illegally modified vehicle is stopped by a police officer, there are three likely outcomes. First, the driver can be let off with a warning and a request to fix the problem. Second, the officer can issue a fix-it ticket that requires the vehicle's owner to fix the problem and have the vehicle inspected before it can return to service. Third, if the vehicle is determined to be unsafe for street use, the vehicle can be impounded and the driver ticketed.

Depending on the extent of a vehicle's modifications, a fix-it ticket can be a minor inconvenience or a royal pain. Not having mud flaps behind the rear tires is a quick and inexpensive fix, whereas violating a frame height law can be a much bigger project. Planning ahead and knowing the local laws when initially making such modifications is the best way to avoid these headaches.

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