Unlawful Vehicle Modifications and Mechanical Violations
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What Is An Unlawful Vehicle Modification?
An unlawful vehicle modification is a modification that violates laws which regulate vehicle specifications and vehicle equipment in your state. Typical unlawful modifications are:
- Window tinting
- Removal of mufflers or other devices that control sound
- Lowering or raising vehicles
- Addition of under vehicle or neon lights
- Modification of vehicle ground clearance by lowering or raising your vehicle
What is a Mechanical Violation?
You commit a mechanical violation when you use a vehicle that is not properly equipped or whose equipment is malfunctioning. In all states, traffic laws stipulate that all motor vehicles must have certain equipment properly installed, and that equipment must be functioning correctly while the vehicle is being used.
To avoid a mechanical violation, you must ensure that the following equipment is installed and in proper working order:
- Windshields and windows (made of approved safety glass)
- Lights (headlights, turn signals, brake lights, license plate lights)
- Safety belts
What Penalties Can I Expect For An Unlawful Modification/Mechanical Violation?
Usually, you will be issued a traffic ticket for an unlawful modification or mechanical violation. In many states, example California, you may be issued a "fix it" ticket. This ticket allows you to get the equipment fixed and have an authorized person (law enforcement officer) state that the violation was fixed.
In California, if you get a "fix it" ticket, a "Yes" will be ticked next to "Correctable Violation" on your ticket. After the problem is fixed, you should get the signature of a local law enforcement officer on the "Certificate of Correction" part of the ticket.
You should read your ticket to determine if you can simply mail in the Certificate of Correction or if you must go to court to have the case dismissed.
If you do not have the problem fixed within a short time of getting the "fix it" ticket, or if the court is not satisfied with the change you have made, you may be issued another ticket which will go on your record.
Can I Sell Equipment That Is Not Conforming To State Regulations?
In many states, like California, it is illegal to sell, offer for sale, install, lease or replace equipment (such as lights, signal devices, mufflers, brakes) that does not conform to state regulations. In these states, you will be liable once you know that the equipment you are selling will be used in a vehicle that does not conform to the state's regulations.
If I Am Given A Traffic Ticket, Can I Drive My Vehicle Home?
In some states, such as California, if you have been given a traffic ticket for driving an unsafe vehicle, or a vehicle with unlawful modifications, it is illegal to operate that vehicle except as is necessary to take the vehicle to your residence, place of business or a garage until the vehicle is made to conform to California regulations. In other states, such as Oregon you are not allowed to operate a non-conforming vehicle at all.
It would be wise to ask the law enforcement officer who gives you the ticket if you can operate your vehicle. You may not be allowed to drive your vehicle to your home if your brakes are not working or if it is raining and your windshield wipers do not work (mechanical violation), but you may be allowed to take a vehicle home if you have a minor unlawful modification.
Do I Need An Attorney?
The Law regarding vehicle modifications and mechanical violations vary from state to state. If you believe that you were issued an erroneous traffic ticket for any of these offenses or if you want to ensure that your equipment conforms to your state's regulations, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to provide the information you need. To successfully fight your traffic ticket, a consultation with an attorney will be beneficial to gather valuable information about your state laws and your particular circumstances.
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Last Modified: 02-11-2013 02:29 PM PST
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