South Carolina's 'Carolina Squat' ban gets enforced May 10

Law enforcement officials in South Carolina will begin issuing tickets to vehicles with the so-called “Carolina Squat” modification on May 10. While the practice of lifting the front end of a vehicle has been illegal for months, the state has given out warnings since announcing the ban.

Broadly speaking, “squatting” a vehicle refers to lifting the front end without lifting the rear end. Officially, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety defines a “squatted” vehicle as one “with a front or rear fender raised four or more inches higher than the other.” While you can theoretically “squat” anything with two axles, this modifications is more commonly seen on pickups and SUVs than on, say, a minivan.

South Carolina lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle banned the Carolina Squat due to safety concerns. Dialing in far more ground clearance up front than out back gives the driver a compromised view of the road, they argued, so it’s easy to miss objects such as other cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. And, without the appropriate modifications the headlights risk blinding oncoming motorists. North Carolina and Virginia have already banned the modification, while Tennessee announced a ban on what’s locally known as the Tennessee Tilt in April 2024. Oddly, the petition to ban the trucks in The Volunteer State gathered far fewer signatures than the petition to prevent the ban.

The ban in South Carolina was announced on November 12, 2023, but law enforcement officials were instructed to issue warnings rather than tickets for six months to give drivers time to make their vehicle compliant. In theory, these modifications aren’t irreversible. Time’s up, however. Starting on May 10, first-time offenders will receive a $100 fine, second-time offenders will get a $200 fine, and third-time offenders will be fined $300. Folks caught driving a squatted vehicle for the third time will also lose their driver’s license for one year.

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