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Unlawful Vehicle Modifications: State Laws

Whether it is dark window tinting, changing your exhaust system so you can drag race, or altering your car's appearance by adding neon lights to the bottom, certain vehicle modifications are illegal.

It is important to understand the laws in your state before customizing your car. This will ensure you don't complete an expensive modification you can't legally enjoy on public roads. It may also help you avoid a ticket from a police officer.

This article and linked materials will help you learn about:

  • Requirements for ground clearance
  • Decorative license plate restrictions
  • Restrictions on loud exhaust systems, muffler mods, and other engine modifications
  • Environmental and emissions standards and how they affect rolling coal modifications and cold air intake
  • Tinted windows and rules for side windows, front/back windows, rear windows, and windshields
  • Radar detectors, radar jammers, and laser jammers
  • Restrictions on tail light tinting
  • Mimicking emergency vehicles with red/blue lights or flashing lights
  • Decibel limits and noise level violations

Each state has different laws and regulations. Fines also vary from state to state. The chart in this article includes each state's automotive modifications and vehicle equipment laws.

Aftermarket Modifications: What to Know

Aftermarket car modifications are enhancements made to a vehicle's parts or systems after it has left the factory.

These modifications can include changes to any of the following components:

  • Engine
  • Exhaust
  • Suspension
  • Body
  • Interior

Aftermarket modifications offer the chance to customize a vehicle's performance or appearance.

Be aware of several factors before making changes:

  • Not all modifications may be legal in your state.
  • Some may void your vehicle's warranty.
  • Poorly executed modifications can compromise the safety of the vehicle and its occupants.
  • The quality of aftermarket parts and installation varies. Carefully research and choose reputable sources to ensure your modification meets legal and safety standards.

Unlawful Vehicle Modifications: State Law Chart

Find links to the relevant laws in your state in the chart below.

State Statute
Alabama Regulation of Operation of Motor Vehicles: Equipment (AL Code Title 32, Ch. 5, Article 9) Window Tinting (AL Code Title 32, Ch. 5, Article 215)
Alaska Vehicle Equipment Standards (AK Statutes section 28.05.081)
Arizona Equipment (ARS Title 28, Ch. 3, Article 16 scroll to sections 28-921 to 28-966)
Arkansas Size and Load Regulations (AR Code Title 27, Ch. 35) Equipment Regulations (AR Code Title 27, Ch. 37)
California Division 12 — Equipment of Vehicles (CA Vehicle Code, Division 12)
Colorado Regulation of Vehicles and Traffic: Equipment (CRS Title 42, Article 4, Part 2)
Connecticut Motor Vehicles: Equipment (GSC Ch. 246; scroll to sections 14-80 to 14-106)
Delaware Equipment Requirements (DE Code Title 21, Ch. 43, Subchapter I) Lights (DE Code Title 21, Ch. 43, Subchapter II)
District of Columbia Regulation of Traffic (D.C. Code Title 50, Subtitle VII, Ch. 22)
Florida State Uniform Traffic Control: Equipment (FS Chapter 316; scroll to sections 316.217 to 316.455)
Georgia Equipment and Inspection of Motor Vehicles (Georgia Code Title 40, Ch. 8)
Hawaii Special Interest Vehicles (HRS section 286-26.5)
Idaho Vehicle Equipment (ID Statutes Title 49, Ch. 9)
Illinois Equipment of Vehicles (625 ILCS 5, Ch. 12)
Indiana Motor Vehicle Equipment (Indiana Code Title 9, Article 19)
Iowa Vehicle Equipment (IA Code Chapter 321, beginning with subdivision titled Lighting Equipment; scroll to sections 321.384 to 321.481)
Kansas Equipment of Vehicles (KS Statutes Ch. 8, Article 17)
Kentucky Vehicle Equipment (KRS Chapter 189; scroll to sections 189.020 to 189.205)
Louisiana Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation (LRS Title 32; scroll to sections 32:301 to 32:369) Low-rider vehicles (LRS section 32:297) Proper equipment required on vehicles; display of plate (LRS section 32:53)
Maine Equipment (MRS Title 29-A, Ch. 17)
Maryland Vehicle Laws — Equipment of Vehicles (MD Transportation Code Title 22)
Massachusetts Operation of unregistered or improperly equipped motor vehicles (90 MGL section 9)
Michigan Equipment (MI Vehicle Code sections 257.683 to 257.711)
Minnesota Traffic Regulations: Equipment (MN Statutes Chapter 169; scroll to sections 169.47 to 169.75)
Mississippi Equipment and Identification (MS Code Title 63, Ch. 7)
Missouri Vehicle Equipment Regulations (MRS Chapter 307)
Montana Vehicle Equipment (MCA Title 61, Ch. 9)
Nebraska Lighting and Warning Equipment (R.R.S. Nebraska Statutes Chapter 60, Article 6q)
Nevada Equipment of Vehicles (NRS sections 484D.230 to 484D.545)
New Hampshire Equipment of Vehicles (NH Statutes Chapter 266)
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Equipment (NJ Statutes Title 39, Ch. 3, Article 3)
New Mexico Motor Vehicles: Equipment (NMS Ch. 66, Article 3, Part 9)
New York Equipment of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles (NY Vehicle & Traffic Code Title 3, Article 9, Section 375)
North Carolina Motor Vehicle Act: Equipment (NCGS Ch. 20, Article 3, Part 9, scroll to sections 20-122 to 20-137)
North Dakota Equipment of Vehicles [PDF] (ND Code Chapter 39-21) Size, Width, and Height Restrictions [PDF] (ND Code Chapter 39-12)
Ohio Traffic Laws: Equipment (ORC Chapter 4513)
Oklahoma Vehicle Equipment (OK Statutes Title 47; scroll to section 47-12-101)
Oregon Vehicle Equipment Generally (OR Vehicle Code Chapter 815) Vehicle Equipment Lights (OR Vehicle Code Chapter 816)
Pennsylvania Equipment Standards (PA Vehicle Code Chapter 41) Lighting Equipment (PA Vehicle Code Chapter 43) Other Required Equipment (PA Vehicle Code Chapter 45)
Rhode Island Equipment and Accessories Generally (RI Code Chapter 31-23) Lighting Equipment and Reflectors (RI Code Chapter 31-24)
South Carolina Equipment and Identification (SC Code Title 56, Ch. 5; scroll to Article 35)
South Dakota Vehicle and Accessory Specifications (SD Codified Laws Chapter 32-15) Wheels, Tires, and Special Vehicles (SD Codified Laws Chapter 32-19) Weight, Size, and Load Restrictions (SD Codified Laws Chapter 32-22)
Tennessee Equipment — Lighting Regulations (TN Code Title 55, Ch. 9)
Texas Vehicle Equipment (TX Transportation Code Chapter 547)
Utah Vehicle Equipment and Modifications (UT Code sections 41-6a-1603 to 41-6a-1641)
Vermont Operation of Vehicles: Equipment ( VT Statutes Title 23, Ch. 13, Subchapter 14)
Virginia Motor Vehicle and Equipment Safety (VA Code Title 46.2, Ch. 10)
Washington Vehicle lighting and other equipment (RCW Chapter 46.37)
West Virginia Equipment (WV Code sections 17C-15-1 to 17C-15-50) Unsafe and improperly equipped vehicles (WV Code section 17C-15-1)
Wisconsin Equipment of Vehicles (WI Code Chapter 347)
Wyoming Equipment (WY Statutes Title 31, Ch. 5, Article 9)

Ticketed for an Illegal Car Modification? Get Help

Consider your legal options if you've gotten a citation for an unlawful vehicle violation. Consulting with an experienced traffic ticket attorney in your area may help you avoid a costly fine. An attorney familiar with local laws for modified vehicles can assess if law enforcement applied the law correctly.

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