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Lift Laws You Need To Know

Jeep Flatfender Pulled Over
Tom Morr | Writer
Posted February 1, 2011
Photographers: Chris Collard, The 4-Wheel & Off-Road Archives

Rules By Region Part 4: The Southwest

The end is nearly near. For multiple months we have detailed lift laws and related legislation, starting in the Northeast (Oct. '10) and moving westward. Many readers have shared their vehicle-code experiences on our forums at For example, New Jersey has intricate "high-rise" vehicle legislation, enforced by inspection stations. Reader Lee Swobodzien posted his recent licensing experience on our forum:

"I just took my newly acquired '90 Chevy Blazer on a 6-inch lift with 35s through the stability testing. The Asbury Park location where you photographed the tilt wall is where I had my truck on the 19th of August. I have a listing of applicable rules and regulations provided by NJDMV on oversized vehicles. You hit the nail on the head but missed a few things.

"New Jersey has moved away from safety inspections, only doing emissions testing now, so it is the owner's responsibility to ensure safety. Overall, the testing of the stability takes 35-45 minutes to load the truck onto the scales then balance it with the driver-side wheels up on the comedy act of a bump and the passenger-side wheels on the scales. After that, the truck is measured on the front and rear bumpers and in the inner doorframe on the driver side, the wheel height and width are checked, and everything is crunched in a computer.

"Now the real adventure is the mud flaps. They will penalize you and fail you if they do not come fully down to the bottom of the rim. I found out the hard way, as I was 1/8 inch short. In all, though, you hit it dead-on, like I said. There were just a few things you missed. Keep up the great work, and keep the muddy action rolling."

Insurance Issues
Most 4x4 owners don't think to check their insurance policy before making modifications. In case of an accident where the driver of a modified 4x4 is at fault, an insurance company can decline to pay if the vehicle has illegal modifications. Then the driver might have to prove that the modifications weren't responsible for the accident.

The message here: Verify that lifts don't void your coverage. Some insurers refuse to cover any vehicle with a modified suspension. Others only cover vehicles with a maximum of 4 inches of lift. Some even offer extended coverage for aftermarket equipment. Like lift laws, insurance company policies regarding modified vehicles vary state by state.

Southwestern Flavor
This month we cover the states that are home to much of the country's greatest wheeling. Unfortunately, the vehicle codes in many of these states aren't as 4x4-favorable as the terrain.

Utah, a global Mecca for 4x4 exploration, has comparatively conservative frame-height laws.

Colorado's vehicle code is one of the most convoluted in the country. Any suspension alterations "from the manufacturer's original design except in accordance with specifications permitting such alteration established by the department" are violations.

Michie's Legal Resources, a website that hosts the Colorado statutes, makes an interesting comment: "This section's flat prohibition against any motor vehicle suspension system alteration, except the installation of heavy-duty shock absorbers or springs, is unconstitutionally overbroad: People v. Von Tersch, 180 Colo. 295, 505 P.2d 5 (1973) (decided prior to 1975 amendment)."

Next time we'll complete our lift law series with the Northwest.

(Revised Statutes, Title 28)
Summary: Arizona doesn't have specific lift or frame-height laws. However, pickups with modified suspensions must have mudflaps. The state also defines allowable height ranges for lights and limits the number of allowable auxiliary lights for street use. Only four front-mounted lights can be on at any one time (§28-946).

Rear Fender Splash Guards (§28-958.01): Lifted pickups under a GVWR of 10,000 pounds must have guards that prevent splashing of mud or water onto windshields of other motor vehicles. These guards have to be made of a flexible rubber material that's wide enough to cover the tires' full tread widths and must extend no more than 8 inches above the ground. SUVs and Jeeps aren't mentioned, so they're apparently exempt.

Headlights (§28-924): Mounted no higher than 54 inches nor lower than 22.
Taillights (§28-925): Mounted no higher than 72 inches nor lower than 15.
Foglights (§28-938): Mounted no higher than 30 inches nor lower than 12; two lights maximum.
Passing Lights (§28-938): Mounted no higher than 42 inches nor lower than 24; two lights maximum.
Driving Lights (§28-938): Mounted no higher than 42 inches nor lower than 16; two lights maximum.

Arizona State Legislature

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