Fender laws, state-by-state (sticky proposal)

Offroad VW based vehicles have problems/insights all their own. Not to mention the knowledge gained in VW durability.
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hotrodsurplus
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Fender laws, state-by-state (sticky proposal)

Post by hotrodsurplus » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:55 am

I have an idea for a sticky.

A recent post by KBWAKESK8 regarding fender laws got me to thinking. Just about every one of our cars runs afoul of the law due to fenders and/or mud flaps. So I thought a state-by-state outline of fender laws would be pretty appropriate for us. Most states post their vehicle codes online nowadays, making this sort of thing pretty easy to compile.

If we do this, though, I propose that we keep it very official and on topic by posting the entries the following way:

1) State (in bold, red text)
2) Vehicle code title
3) URL to the VC page (if applicable)
2) vehicle code number,
3) actual code text

I think we can also present our own proven solutions to the problems. For example, I think all of us could benefit from your idea for a removable mud flap if it actually worked to get a ticket written off.

I’ll kick this thing off with the three fender laws of which I’m most familiar: Arizona, California, and Washington.

Arizona
Rear fender splash guards
28-958.01
(Note: unless I missed something, you Arizonians have it made. The vehicle code seems to only concern trucks rated at one-ton capacity or greater, trailers, semitrailers, or buses)

A. A person shall not operate a truck, trailer, semitrailer or bus on a highway unless the vehicle is equipped with rear fender splash guards that comply with the specifications provided in this section.

B. The splash guards:
1. Shall be attached in a manner that prevents the splashing of mud or water on the windshield of other motor vehicles.
2. Shall extend to a length of not more than eight inches from the ground.
3. Shall be wide enough to cover the full tread or treads of the tires being protected.
4. Shall be installed close enough to the tread surface of the tire or wheel to control the side throw of the bulk of the thrown road surface material.
5. May be constructed of a flexible rubberized material.
6. Shall be attached in a manner that, regardless of movement either in the splash guards or the vehicle, the splash guards retain their general parallel relationship to the tread surface of the tire or wheel under all ordinary operating conditions.

C. This section does not apply to:
1. A vehicle commonly known as a pickup truck with a manufacturer's rating of three-quarter ton or less, except that this section applies if the pickup truck has been modified from the original bumper height design to raise the center of gravity of the pickup truck.

2. A truck tractor or converter dolly when used in combination with another vehicle.

3. A single axle trailer with fenders wide enough to cover the full tread or treads of the tires being protected and that extend to a length of not more than fourteen inches from the ground.


California
Fenders and Mudguards
http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d12/vc27600.htm
27600:
No person shall operate any motor vehicle having three or more wheels, any trailer, or semitrailer unless equipped with fenders, covers, or devices, including flaps or splash aprons, or unless the body of the vehicle or attachments thereto afford adequate protection to effectively minimize the spray or splash of water or mud to the rear of the vehicle and all such equipment or such body or attachments thereto shall be at least as wide as the tire tread. This section does not apply to those vehicles exempt from registration, trailers and semitrailers having an unladen weight of under 1,500 pounds, or any vehicles manufactured and first registered prior to January 1, 1971, having an unladen weight of under 1,500 pounds.

Amended Ch. 215, Stats. 1970. Effective November 23, 1970.


Washington
Fenders or splash aprons.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.37.500
RCW 46.37.500

(1) Except as authorized under subsection (2) of this section, no person may operate any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer that is not equipped with fenders, covers, flaps, or splash aprons adequate for minimizing the spray or splash of water or mud from the roadway to the rear of the vehicle. All such devices shall be as wide as the tires behind which they are mounted and extend downward at least to the center of the axle.

(2) A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old or a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.

[1999 c 58 § 2; 1988 c 15 § 2; 1977 ex.s. c 355 § 41; 1961 c 12 § 46.37.500. Prior: 1947 c 200 § 3, part; 1937 c 189 § 44, part; Rem. Supp. 1947 § 6360-44, part. Formerly RCW 46.36.130 (second paragraph).]

Notes:
Severability -- 1977 ex.s. c 355: See note following RCW 46.37.010.

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Marc
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Post by Marc » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:21 am

May I suggest that bumper laws be included? In my experience a baja bug is at least as likely to run afoul of them as it is fender laws.

Washington
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.37.513
RCW 46.37.513
Bumpers.

When any motor vehicle was originally equipped with bumpers or any other collision energy absorption or attenuation system, that system shall be maintained in good operational condition, and no person shall remove or disconnect, and no owner shall cause or knowingly permit the removal or disconnection of, any part of that system except temporarily in order to make repairs, replacements, or adjustments.


Another problem, probably not unique to Washington but certainly present here, is that the State Patrol has the authority to make up regulations as they go and there's no way for the public to know what they are. You might also be cited by a trooper for an "infraction" that only exists in his mind and never realize it; and even if you find you are in the right and fight it, you're still out the hassle of going to court.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.37.005
RCW 46.37.005
State patrol — Additional powers and duties.

In addition to those powers and duties elsewhere granted, the chief of the Washington state patrol shall have the power and the duty to adopt, apply, and enforce such reasonable rules and regulations (1) relating to proper types of vehicles or combinations thereof for hauling passengers, commodities, freight, and supplies, (2) relating to vehicle equipment, and (3) relating to the enforcement of the provisions of this title with regard to vehicle equipment, as may be deemed necessary for the public welfare and safety in addition to but not inconsistent with the provisions of this title.

The chief of the Washington state patrol is authorized to adopt by regulation, federal standards relating to motor vehicles and vehicle equipment, issued pursuant to the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, or any amendment to said act, notwithstanding any provision in Title 46 RCW inconsistent with such standards. Federal standards adopted pursuant to this section shall be applicable only to vehicles manufactured in a model year following the adoption of such standards.

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Post by fusername » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:10 pm

MASSACHUSETTS

MASS GENERAL LAW CHAP 90 Sec 7
Every motor vehicle or trailer, excepting passenger motor vehicles, operated in or upon any way shall be equipped with suitable guards which will effectively reduce the spray or splash to the rear of mud, water or slush caused by the rear wheels thereof. Every passenger motor vehicle which is equipped with tires which extend beyond the fenders or body of such vehicle and which is operated in or upon any way shall be equipped with flaps or suitable guards to reduce such spray or splash to the rear and sides.

CHAP 90 table of contents
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zancat
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Post by zancat » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:12 pm

I just bent up some front tube fenders for a guy in WA that is following the letter of the law on a baja bug (former 5-1600 racecar). Will be doing the rears this week. They are designed to provide legal coverage and not hinder travel.

I have no idea what it going to end up looking like though... LOL

Zancat
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hotrodsurplus
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Post by hotrodsurplus » Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:10 am

Marc, that's a good idea too. Most of the time we get away with chin bumpers, but a real letter-of-the-law type might take issue if an aftermarket bumper doesn't provide protection across the car.

Thanks for the post, Fuser.

Zancat, here's something to consider as you're building these fenders. The law stipulates that the protection just has to prevent rearward spray. We have a Skagit county sheriff in our complex. I cornered him and asked about what constituted adequate protection. His response: something as simple as a mud flap is sufficient. Here's the stipulation, though: it has to cover the area from the top of the tire to the middle of the axle when viewed from the rear of the car. It doesn't have to conform to the tire shape, either. It just has to be as wide as the tire.

Just today I saw a cement pumper truck. It has those little auxiliary load wheels that retract up to the barrel. I'll be damned if their "fenders" were nothing more than flat panels immediately behind the tires.

Here's another thing that you should consider for your customer: make them removeable. If his car is 40 years old or older and the weather is good Washington doesn't require fenders at all.

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Post by zancat » Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:11 am

hotrodsurplus wrote: Zancat, here's something to consider as you're building these fenders. The law stipulates that the protection just has to prevent rearward spray. We have a Skagit county sheriff in our complex. I cornered him and asked about what constituted adequate protection. His response: something as simple as a mud flap is sufficient. Here's the stipulation, though: it has to cover the area from the top of the tire to the middle of the axle when viewed from the rear of the car. It doesn't have to conform to the tire shape, either. It just has to be as wide as the tire.

Just today I saw a cement pumper truck. It has those little auxiliary load wheels that retract up to the barrel. I'll be damned if their "fenders" were nothing more than flat panels immediately behind the tires.

Here's another thing that you should consider for your customer: make them removeable. If his car is 40 years old or older and the weather is good Washington doesn't require fenders at all.
I tried to talk him into removeable mud flaps w/ baja fenders, but this whole thing is his design. This guy is getting a reputation for for his creations. They are always completely functional, but style always takes a lower priority. LOL He has some great ideas though. You guys should see the chevy blower he's adapted to a type III engine.

Thanks for the info though! I really appreciate it. I am pretty sure he doesn't know about the 40 & fair thing. I will pass it along.

Zancat

Edit - PS Great topic!
Zancat

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Post by hotrodsurplus » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:17 am

zancat wrote:This guy is getting a reputation for for his creations. They are always completely functional, but style always takes a lower priority. LOL
If I were a bettin' man, I'd say he's an engineer by trade. :lol:

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Marc
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Post by Marc » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:20 am

Someone's overlooking the clause:
"...vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item..."
That raises a red flag, since for that term to be included in a regulation it must be defined somewhere in the law...

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.16.307

This is the same place where people run afoul of the law with "Collector Vehicle" license plates...a trooper observes you on the same stretch of road at the same time of day a few times and it becomes difficult to make the case that the car isn't being used for regular transportation.

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Post by hotrodsurplus » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:25 pm

Marc wrote:Someone's overlooking the clause:
"...vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item..."
ahh, formal legalese. The fortunate thing is that any of us who own cars 40 years or older are okay. The conjunction in this following phrase is the key that lets us off that hook:

(2) A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old or a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.

Legalese is all predicated on mathematical logic (it's how they try to keep the loopholes to a minimum). With its herebys and theretofores it's confusing as hell but it does make sense if you really study it.

In so many words the statement reads this way:

A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.

or

A street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.

not

A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item need not be equipped with fenders when the vehicle is used and driven during fair weather on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.

The street rod clause only makes the phrase confusing. That was added as a provision for special construction vehicles that fell under the heading of street rod.

I have experience with that particular law (well, actually my wife does). We have a really uptight sheriff on our island that's a real revenue generator so to speak. A few months ago he pulled over my wife when she was driving her Baja: its rear fenders fall about six inches short of the rear axle centerline. He squealed with delight when he noticed that she didn't have a seat belt, too (not that not wearing a seat belt is anything to brag about, mind you).

When he returned from his car after about half an hour, he let her go apologizing for the inconvenience: due to its age, her car needed neither fenders nor seat belts (it's a '63). He did, however, say that she should install "mud flaps" (his words; she's Swiss and had no idea what such parts were called in English) if she planned to drive the car in the rain (it was sunny that day).

But don't take my (or anybody else's) word for it. Ask an officer to clarify this regardless of state. I'm certainly no authority.

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Post by Marc » Mon Aug 18, 2008 4:54 pm

I'm no lawyer, but I do have a fairly good grasp of the language and "legalese".
Your analysis would be correct if it read:
"A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old, or a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item"

...since that comma isn't there, the "owned and operated as a collector's item" part also would apply to the 40+ old car regardless of whether it's considered a street rod or not.

In the end, of course, it would be up to the judge - he might agree with your interpretation. The salient point is that you'd probably still be cited if the officer didn't consider your car a street rod...if you argued the point with him he might back down, but I'd wager he'd find something else to write you up for to save face.

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Post by Skidmark » Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:32 pm

on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.
Any baja with a spec of dirt on it wouldn't pass that statement... 8)
"Your car sounds angry, and it wants to go fast all the time..."
(quote from my daughter, after driving my car)

It's not complicated, it's just expensive...

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hotrodsurplus
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Post by hotrodsurplus » Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:49 pm

Marc wrote:Your analysis would be correct if it read:
"A motor vehicle that is not less than forty years old, or a street rod vehicle that is owned and operated primarily as a collector's item"

...since that comma isn't there, the "owned and operated as a collector's item" part also would apply to the 40+ old car regardless of whether it's considered a street rod or not.
Actually, that would be grammatically incorrect to insert a comma there. To split a sentence that way you would have to have two independent clauses. It's called a coordinating conjunction. But now this is starting to look like an English class (or worse, a conversation with one of my editors). You're right; ultimately it's the discretion of the judge.

Instead, let's just post the vehicle codes and leave it up to the end user to interpret.

I will say, though, that a car needn't be considered a street rod to seek protection under this law. The street rod thing was definitely an add-in to let newer special-construction vehicles that resembled older cars run fenderless.

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Post by hotrodsurplus » Mon Aug 18, 2008 5:54 pm

Skidmark wrote:
on well-maintained, hard-surfaced roads.
Any baja with a spec of dirt on it wouldn't pass that statement... 8)
Yes, but they'd have to catch you on a city-, county, or state-maintained road. How would they know that you weren't on your buddy's 80-acre private parcel? :wink: ("I'll get you Duke boys yet," said in my best Roscoe P Coltrane voice)

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Post by Leatherneck » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:04 pm

I will delete this post later but will see how this flows, at minimum we will add it to the "Shop talk Forums Off-Road information. Start here!" thread. Get more people to find the info for there state and should be good to go!

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zancat
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Post by zancat » Mon Aug 18, 2008 9:06 pm

hotrodsurplus wrote:
zancat wrote:This guy is getting a reputation for for his creations. They are always completely functional, but style always takes a lower priority. LOL
If I were a bettin' man, I'd say he's an engineer by trade. :lol:
DING DING DING DING!!! We have a winner! :-)

Zancat
Zancat

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