When I was a kid, I used to like watching the monster trucks on TV. I loved to see Big Foot and Grave Digger crushing cars left and right. Perhaps it is these kinds of trucks that have inspired people to try and create their own four-wheeled vehicles of destruction here in Lodi.
I've spent some time trying to figure out what it is about these trucks that get the attention of officers. I came to the conclusion that it is the massive number of vehicle code violations on a single vehicle. It's not that I dislike trucks; most officers in our department, including myself, drive full-size trucks. The problem is that these violations can make your vehicle unsafe.
I've compiled a list of violations for those who want to build their own monster truck. These laws also pertain to lowered vehicles, cars and motorcycles.
Tinted windows: A favorite topic for argument, but the answer is still "no." There shall be no colored material placed, displayed, installed, affixed or applied to the windshield or the front side windows. A short strip across the top of the windshield is permissible as long as it is not red or amber. The legal measurement is a bit complicated, but you should be okay as long as it is not more than a couple of inches.
Lifted/lowered: Vehicles cannot be modified so that any portion of the vehicle is below the lowermost portion of the rim of any wheel in contact with the road.
Headlights: Headlights shall be mounted no less than 22 inches and no more than 45 inches from the ground. Measure from level ground to the center of the light.
Extra lights: If your truck is lit up like a casino in Reno, with flashing lights, illumination along the undercarriage, etc., your car-crushing show will be canceled.
Horns: Horns are required, but they may not be "unreasonably loud or harsh." Those of you with train horns — and I've heard you out there — they've got to go.
Music: I realize that pounding rap, heavy metal or twanging country are required when you are in your personal monster truck. If an officer can hear it from beyond 50 feet from your vehicle, you are in violation of the California Vehicle Code. Don't forget this in the summer when you roll your non-tinted windows down. The sound travels farther.
Exhaust: If your car crushing vehicle is going to look good, you will probably want it to sound good. Unfortunately, the law states that there shall be no excessive or unusual noise, and no muffler or exhaust system shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device. Exhaust pipes may not be directed to the side of the vehicle between 2 feet and 11 feet above the ground.
Tires: Every quality car crusher must have big tires; however, they cannot extend beyond the body of the vehicle. Once they extend out that far, mudguards are required to keep material from being thrown up towards the vehicles behind you (as a motorcyclist), I especially enjoy rocks and mud getting flung back at me as I follow a local Big Foot wannabe. The mudguards go on all tires extending beyond the vehicle, not just the rear ones.
In sum, keep these laws in mind while you pimp your ride. It'll keep you and other drivers safe and save you the money and hassle of dealing with a fix-it ticket. Crush on!
Any comments, questions or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to Jeanie Biskup at firstname.lastname@example.org; mailed to Lodi Police Department, 215 W. Elm St., Lodi, CA 95240; or asked by phone at 333-6864.