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Lift Laws You Need To Know

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

Rules By Region Part 5: The Northwest

Our state-by-state survey of the state of current lift-law legislation finally comes to a (grand?) finale. Previous articles in this series are online at

Crossing State Lines
Technically, the vehicle must comply with the regulations for the states it's in as well as the one where it's licensed. Some states' enforcement toward visiting vehicles is letter-of-the-law, while others are less likely to pull over tourist-dollar 4x4s that are in the ballpark on bumper and frame heights, assuming other violations aren't present.

Noncompliance for current pet-peeve equipment such as fenders/mudflaps can be the reason for getting pulled over. A domino effect of violations can then ensue. This often depends on the officer's knowledge of the vehicle code and what type of day he or she is having. When in doubt, play it safe and trailer your trail rig to other states.

Northwest Passages
This month's collection of states reveals extreme approaches to vehicular regulations. Washington State has one of the densest codes in the country. In contrast, Wyoming apparently believes in its residents' common sense concerning safely lifted 4x4s.

Since we started this series last fall, some states have altered height laws or proposed changes. For example, Iowa is considering limiting frame heights to a modest 23 inches.

Hopefully, Iowa's bill won't slide through unchallenged.

SEMA, the trade association comprised of aftermarket parts manufacturers and sellers, opposes overly restrictive laws and pushes for intelligent legislation that's based on actual engineering data: frame and bumper heights ranging from 24 to 28 inches, depending on GVWR. (See "Lobby for the Hobby," Dec. '11.) SEMA employs lawyers and lobbyists to represent the multi-billion-dollar automotive-accessories industry.

To keep tabs on upcoming lift-law legislation, all enthusiasts are encouraged to sign up for the SEMA Action Network email blasts at Also, the website routinely updates its state-by-state listings of lift regulations. Finally, feel free to post your lift-law experiences on our forum,

(Administrative Code, Title 13)
SUMMARY: Alaska follows the current trend of setting allowable frame heights (measured at the lowest point between the tires) instead of focusing on components. Also, body lifts are limited to three inches.

4,500 lb GVWR or less 24 in.
4,501-7,500 lb GVWR 26 in.
7,501-10,000 lb GVWR 28 in.

Body Lifts (§04.005): "... A Motor Vehicle May Not Be Modified To Position The lowest portion of the body floor more than three inches above the top of the frame ..."

Rear Fender Splash Guards (§04.227, §04.265): "No vehicle may be driven upon a highway or vehicular way or area with sharp protuberances, or with fenders, bumpers, or other equipment removed, and which may endanger persons or other objects.

"No person may drive a motor vehicle unless it has a device which effectively reduces the wheel spray or splash of water or other substance to the rear of the vehicle.

"The device required in [the above] of this section must be installed and maintained so that the device placed behind a wheel extends downward to a distance of 14 inches from the surface of the ground when the vehicle is standing on level ground."

Headlights (§04.020): Mounted no higher than 54 inches nor lower than 22.

Taillights (§04.025): Minimum height of 20 inches above the ground at their center points.

Bumpers (§04.272): "If a motor vehicle was equipped, when assembled, with bumpers or other collision energy absorption or attenuation system, the system must be maintained in good operating condition, and no person may remove, disconnect, cause or knowingly permit the removal or disconnection of a part of the system, except temporarily in order to make repairs, replacements, or adjustments, during which time the vehicle may not be driven."

Alaska State Legislature

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