SEMA Law & Order: February Is the Month of Love and Legislation

Cars on show floor

Images: SEMA

Staying informed about the pending and current legislation that could impact you as a rodder is an important aspect of getting the most out of your hobby, but doing so can be quite a lot of work. Lucky for us, the SEMA Action Network is all over the job, scanning through dozens of proposed, passed and rejected bills each month to bring us updates on the legal battles we should be aware of. These are the SEMA Law & Order updates for February that all rodders should be aware of.

Crowds inside and products on show floorIn the fight for rights, hot rodders and classic vehicle owners are fairing pretty well so far this month. That’s because several states are either proposing bills or have passed bills that favor hobbiests. One such bill calls for the issuance of single license plates, whether for all vehicles or just “special interest” vehicles, which would allow rod and custom owners to comply with license plate laws while not having to drill into the fronts of their cars to run an otherwise obligatory second plate. This type of bill has been introduced in Idaho, Iowa, Hawaii, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Moving to the East Coast, a bill has been introduced in New Jersey that aims to create a special registration class for street rods and classic car replicas. If passed, the bill would also allow for special historic or classic car license plates, as well as give owners of kit cars and customs the ability to apply for and receive a certificate of title for their vehicle. Similarly, a bill in Missouri was introduced that calls for a special one-time registration of $25 for historic trailers (models that are 25 years or older) and allow such trailers to run year of manufacture license plates legally in the state.

SEK_2884-1200x1200SEMA has officially declared Friday, July 8th National Collector Car Appreciation Day. West Virginia and Wisconsin have now joined a number of other states in declaring the second Friday of July a day of celebration for automotive enthusiasts.

Last but certainly not least on the positive side, a bill has just been introduced in West Virginia which, if passed, would allow rod and custom vehicle owners to use aftermarket exhaust systems on their rides as long as they met a maximum 95-decibel noise limit. Currently, West Virginia classic car owners are restricted to using stock exhaust systems or systems that contain the same type of mufflers as was stock.

Custom carsOn the flip side, a bill has been introduced in Hawaii that aims to set noise emission limits on all passenger vehicles based on U.S. EPA standards. Not only would this bill potentially limit the use of aftermarket equipment on vehicles, but these noise standards could be left to the discretion of law enforcement as no standard for noise emissions on passenger vehicles has been set by the EPA, just a standard for motorcycle noise emissions.

Another state where legislation we need to be aware of has been introduced is Arizona, where a bill is being considered to increase the state’s gas tax. This bill, if passed, would also create a study and pilot program revolving around introducing a road use tax, which would be based on how many miles a passenger vehicle is driven.

Custom cars and trucks on show floorThe final update for this month comes from the federal level where a bill has been proposed and is being considered which would put a complete damper on a major part of the automotive industry. If passed, this bill would disallow the conversion of passenger cars originally manufactured for the road into race cars. Even though this practice has been a major part of the industry for decades, this bill aims to put an end to that long-running era.

No matter what state you live in, be sure to make your voice known on these current issues. Contacts for state and federal legislators can be found under each update on the SAN “Breaking News” page.

About the author

Lindsey Fisher

Lindsey is a freelance writer and lover of anything with a rumble. Hot rods, muscle cars, motorcycles - she's owned and driven it all. When she's not busy writing about them, she's out in her garage wrenching away. Who doesn't love a tech-savy gal that knows her way around a garage?
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