Wisconsin Legislators seek gear law caution

Ben Williams September 28, 2020 8 No Comments


Fenderless street rods are in the spotlight in Wisconsin.

Fenderless road sticks are in the spotlight at Wisconsin.

On Aug. 17, 2020, seventeen members of those Wisconsin State Assembly and Wisconsin State Senate composed to Attorney General Josh Kaul and Transportation Department Secretary Craig Thompson to contribute to their attention several concerns which say hot rod enthusiasts had voiced concerning the authorities of Wisconsin’s Trans Code 305 (automobile gear ) codes from the Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP).

“These constituents are members of a community that believe this code is being unfairly enforced by the State Patrol: replica hot rod enthusiasts,” read the correspondence. “The crux of the issue is the interpretation of certain sections of Trans Code 305 and Wisconsin State Statutes 341 by certain WSP troopers and inspectors. The concern stems from warnings and citations issued to hot rod enthusiasts over the last few years for a lack of fenders on their early model replica vehicles.”

The letter pointed out Trans Code 305 claims that “Every motor vehicle originally manufactured after Jan. 1, 1950, every homemade vehicle registered after Jan. 1, 1975 and every vehicle registered as a reconstructed vehicle after March 1, 1996 shall be equipped with adequate fenders.”

The letter stated, “However, since these vehicles are replicas of cars built in the 1930s, they are exempt from this requirement under Trans 305.02(4)(b), citing ‘The vehicle equipment requirements for a replica vehicle shall be the same as the vehicle equipment requirements for a vehicle of the same type and model years as the vehicle used for purposes of the reproduction.’ Essentially, this should be interpreted to mean, for example, a replica of a 1931 Ford should follow the same vehicle equipment requirements that were in effect in 1931. As there were no state or federal requirements on fenders at that time, the owner of a replica 1931 Ford should not be held to the standards of today.”

The legislators’ letter also called a problem that originated with the automobile inspections performed by the WSP in relation to hybrids. “On many events, after being mentioned by the State Patrol and needed to report for testimonials, copy vehicle owners have neglected their testimonials replica vehicles under the presumption that replicate automobiles needs to be precisely equal to the initial automobile as (it was) fabricated,” they pointed out. “However, as characterized by Wisconsin state statutes 341. 268(1)(e), replica automobile means a motor vehicle, other than a bike, that’s a replica of a car originally made by a different manufacturer which includes a breeding body that’s united with a new, useful, or replica frame and drivetrain.”

According into the 17 legislators, state law clearly defines a replica automobile differently compared to WSP inspectors have done. “Since these codes went into effect in 1996, there seemed to have been little issue between replica vehicle owners and the WSP for two decades, with problems arising only in the last several years,” the correspondence pointed out. “Since no changes were made to the codes in the last few years, it can only be a matter of interpretation by State Patrol. To that end, we would like to request a formal opinion on this matter from the office of the Attorney General, as to how these codes and statutes are to be interpreted.”

The legislators emphasized that Wisconsin taxpayers who acquire appropriate registrations and pay their fees and taxes shouldn’t be penalized for the random misinterpretation with a State Patrol officer or automobile inspector.

The correspondence has been signed by State Assembly Representatives Adam Neylon; Robert Wittke; Rick Gundrum; Ron Tusler; Mike Kuglitsch; Jim Steinke; Mary Felzkowski; Tyler August; Dave Murphy; Ken Skowronski; Joe Sanfelippo; Dan Knodl; Staush Grusynski and Rob Swearingen. Three State Senators — Stephen Nass; Duey Stroebel and Andre Jacque also place their signatures on the letter. The Wisconsin Specialty Vehicle Alliance urged automobile amateurs to get additional state legislators for their service. 

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