Washington, D.C.—Persuaded by comments from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), aftermarket companies and enthusiast groups, the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) declined to establish a maximum bumper height, vertical bumper height standard or rear bumper requirement as part of a final regulation governing motor vehicles with elevated chassis heights. The regulation marked a significant victory for SEMA and the aftermarket in light of the DMV’s initial proposal, which singled out drivers of modified vehicles for costly and burdensome restrictions.
Under the final regulation, vehicles will be failed at inspection if the tires mounted on vehicles under 10,000 pounds exceed 38 inches or are 6 inches over stock. In addition, bumpers must be mounted no lower than 16 inches from the ground to the bottom of the bumper. The regulation also sets maximum lift limits for vehicles classified by their gross vehicle weight rating. These vehicles are allowed a specified number of inches above the original vehicle height, which is defined as the highest distance inclusive of the largest tires and highest suspension available as standard or optional equipment for the particular vehicle from the original manufacturer.
Raised vehicles that have been inspected and certified prior to October 1, 1998, must comply with this regulation by February 1, 1999, but would be permanently exempted from the maximum lift limits. All vehicles would have to comply with the tire diameter limitations by October 1, 2000.
SEMA VP, Government Affairs Chris Kersting remarked, "Overall this regulation marks a significant improvement over what New Jersey had proposed last year. Like in other states that have confronted the aftermarket this year with raised vehicle limitations, New Jersey officials found persuasive SEMA’s argument that the regulations were unduly restrictive and generally not supportable by a public safety concern." Kersting also indicated that the regulations still include vague and subjective inspection criteria that would allow an inspector to fail a vehicle if any of the modifications were deemed "to affect the safe operation of the vehicle." He said that SEMA would continue working with New Jersey officials to clarify these requirements.