Barrett-Jackson and SEMA pushed Arizona to revise a key motor vehicle law, which will now allow owners, restorers and repairers of pre-1981 vehicles to legally remove and reattach VIN plates, which was previously a crime punishable by forfeiture of the vehicle, as well as possible fines and prison terms.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law the legislation (HB 2480), removing the threat against those who remove and replace VIN (vehicle identification number) tags during repair or restoration, or who unwittingly own vehicles in which the tags were previously attached.
“The fact is, by law, until now, each of these people was the subject of a crime in Arizona, which would put your car at risk,” Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis said. , which participated in the modification of the law. .
“It was essential that this be adopted, not only for Barrett Jackson but for the hobby. This is probably the most important collector car legislation for many decades. Our hope is that other states will use this as a precedent-setting moment. »
At least one other state has taken similar action. Kansas lawmakers recently passed and sent the governor for approval legislation allowing VIN tie-ins.
The Kansas legislation was prompted by a bad situation created by the existing law. In 2017, a Kansas man purchased a restored 1959 Chevrolet Corvette in Indiana, but when he attempted to register the car in his home state, Highway Patrol determined that the dashboard VIN had been removed and replaced. They seized the car as “contraband”.
According to Kansas law, the Corvette should be destroyed. There was no exception for someone who purchased a vehicle without knowing the VIN issue. Apparently the VIN had been removed years earlier during the restoration and put back in place using new rivets.
The Corvette was left in a Topeka impound lot since the owner argued his case in state court. If the new legislature becomes law, as expected, he should be able to get his car back and legally register it.
Arizona, where Barrett-Jackson is headquartered, had a similar law on the books, enforcing a Class 5 felony for VIN pegging with no exceptions for honest repair or restoration. The new language inserted into the law allows such work:
HB 2480 “exempts a person who removes and reinstalls the serial number or manufacturer’s identification from a motor vehicle manufactured before 1981 if the removal and reinstallation is reasonably necessary for repair or restoration,” the legislation says, and it exempts the vehicle from being seized as contraband.
Exceptions would be in effect for vehicles that are known to have been stolen or if the VIN has been altered for the purpose of fraudulently presenting a vehicle.
Craig Jackson, President and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, noted that the fraud The problems that originally prompted the draconian VIN laws are over, as experts and professionals have developed improved ways to authenticate vehicles rather than just relying on VIN plates.
“The intent (of the VIN laws) is for fraud and car theft, not for a guy restoring his car,” Jackson said.
Davis explained why only pre-1981 vehicles are exempt in the revised Arizona regulations.
“In the first place, we used ’81 as a threshold because in ’81 the 17-digit VIN became the universal standard and the placement and attachment was not random, as is the case with vehicles from ’81. era,” he said.
“The vehicles being restored that we wanted to focus on were older vehicles that had a multitude of options on location, placement, type of VIN plate, mounting hardware, serial number, number engine, chassis number, etc.
“In 1981 the VIN plates/tags were attached in a way that made them very difficult to remove.”
For those engaged in the repair or restoration of pre-1981 vintage cars, the new law is a boon, allowing them to proceed without fear of breaking the law, Davis noted.
“It was essential and absolutely imperative that this law be changed, and it was truly one of those monumental moments, and that’s why we’re proud to be at the forefront of this thing,” he said. -he declares. “Usually California is at the forefront, but now we’re making Arizona the tip of the spear.”
Davis noted that federal law already “eliminates” repairs as exempt from VIN violations, although Arizona law now adds restorations to the mix. Nationally, states vary in their approaches to VIN laws, and it is hoped that Arizona’s language will help standardize laws across the country.
“That ripple effect is what we were hoping for,” Davis said. “We want legitimate people with legitimate cars to be able to legitimately restore their cars, remove their VIN and put it back without committing a crime. It’s so easy.”