Massachusetts State Police vs. Altered Ride Height

Ma state police towing stance ride height
The Massachusetts State Police recently posted on their Facebook page they’re enforcing the state law which prohibits vehicle ride height modification. It said that the pictured Miata’s “height had been altered (among other violations), far below what is safe” and it “should be considered “show use” only and are not safe to be driven on the public way, in violation of Massachusetts General Laws”
Now many of us here think that the whole stance thing is kind of dumb, but to each his own. In the end, the guy who owns and drives the car is another enthusiast but with different tastes. The state law, posted after the jump, limits the vehicle ride height alternations to plus or minus two inches from stock. Is this really a problem that the police should be spending time and resources on, never mind bragging about it on Facebook?

stanced miata
General Laws, Chaper 90, Section 7P, Height of motor vehicles; alteration restricted

Section 7P. No person shall alter, modify or change the height of a motor vehicle with an original manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of up to and including ten thousand pounds, by elevating or lowering the chassis or body by more than two inches above or below the original manufacturer’s specified height by use of so-called ”shackle lift kits” for leaf springs or by use of lift kits for coil springs, tires, or any other means or device.
The registrar shall establish rules and regulations for such changes in the height of motor vehicles beyond said two inches. No motor vehicle that has been so altered, modified or changed beyond the provisions of this section or the rules and regulations established by the registrar shall be operated on any way.

The law is pretty clear, even if originally designed for pickup trucks and Jeeps, and it does give the allowance of two inches. Interestingly, all Land Rovers and Jeeps with air height adjustable suspension can raise themselves more than two inches above the standard ride height.
What annoys me is that I never felt endangered by a car that was too slammed or too jacked up. Sure, some of the people driving them drive like jerks, but that’s a whole different story. Anyone in any car can drive like a jerk, but the cars with altered suspensions themselves don’t really do any harm to anyone. My issue is that our roads are full of drivers and cars that are truly dangerous, hell of a lot more than a kid in a Civic that can’t make it up a driveway without scraping.

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  1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    I’ve been in traffic with lowered cars darting around trying to avoid potholes and bouncing around after hitting same. I’ve been stuck behind lowered cars that are teetering on a speed bump or grounded trying to clear the smallest of curb breaks to get into a parking lot. I’ve seen broken bumper covers and fascias flapping in the breeze at highway speeds.
    I’m sure that everyone cited will swear there was no issue with their car. They were just singled out due to hate. Their car is safe.
    Hopefully they outgrow it.

    1. Dabidoh_Sambone Avatar

      Write a law against cars and motorcycles without mufflers, please. My house constantly reverberates with the piercing wail of superbikes, the farty fatcans of Hondas and the potato-potato-potato of Baby Boomers on unmuffled Harleys. I’m utterly sick of it. Years ago a cop ticketed me for ‘disturbing the peace’ when I drove my Westphalia bus into a wealthy subdivision, he claimed he could hear my f’ing unamplified Samyo cheap-arse flea market radio. The ticket was an excuse to chase the hippie away, citing a law that if audible from more than 30 ft away it’s a ticketable offense. You know what else is audible at 30 ft? My neighbor’s cat meowing a hello at me when I get home. But cops can’t / won’t ticket anyone making enough noise to wake the dead.
      Leave the kids in their lowered Miatas alone. In my million miles of driving around this country it’s been a problem for me exactly … never.

      1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

        They don’t let me write laws. Not since the Mandatory Starfleet Uniform Ordinance of 2012. I thought it’d be fun.

        1. Vairship Avatar

          I agree with “them”. There are definitely some people I don’t need to see in form-fitting Starfleet Uniforms…

        2. theskitter Avatar

          Starfleet Uniforms are perfect for infants.
          Indestructable, unstainable, identical onesies.

  2. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

    I find the “Spirit of America” on the bottom of the Massachusetts plate, within the context of this article, to be quite amusing.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      The part that they photoshopped a fitting plate is the only “ewh?”-issue I have with this Facebook-announcement. This Miata is clearly too low to drive at posted speeds on any road that is just slightly worn.

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        There would be cries of “privacy invasion” or other BS if they didn’t at least blur the plate, regardless of the fact that it’s visible to anyone within sight.
        The argument of “more people can see it online hurr durr” holds no water. If you live in a town of 500 people, do you never drive to an urban center simply because millions of strangers might witness your license plate?

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          On this one I happen to completely disagree. A digital image is a reproducable, lasting record. A car being seen passing by an urban center is not. So I usually blur license plates when I post VISITs, and I certainly do so with my own car.
          That said, growing up in a country where one in eleven is engaged by a government spy agency somehow does that to you. I’ve also read Greenwald about Snowden and I have to admit that I was wrong calling out friends for paranoid when there’s certainly large scale surveillance going on everywhere.

          1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
            dead_elvis, inc.

            While I can sort of understand your hesitation due to your situation, my question is still “so what?” What can anyone do with the plate info? Nothing legal, at least in the US.

          2. Sjalabais Avatar

            That’s about it: Legal, illegal or just unexpected actions no one can plan for…I don’t know. Since we’re online, I guess it’s allowed to from 0 to Nazi in one breath. The prime example would be the census in the Weimar Republic, between the world wars. One column was “religion”. A completely innocent column, one might think, but it turned out to be a prime reason for the efficiency of the inhumane Nazi machinery.
            With license plates like this, I’d say Mr Miata might want to grow up. A future employer finds the reference via almighty Google, doesn’t grasp the non-severity of the situation and, pow, Mr Miata will not be hired. I’m also wary of movement pattern registration. Just unhealthy for a society to concentrate too much information, and thus power, in few and/or unchecked hands.

  3. hearsetrax Avatar

    finer lines and grander schemes …..
    but as its been said often enough : it may never be you, but its every other idiot like you.

  4. Gee Nick Avatar
    Gee Nick

    Those little Haggard shits are fucked now.

    1. PowerTryp Avatar

      Oh man I hope they get the book thrown at them.

  5. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
    dead_elvis, inc.

    While slammed cars might be tougher to spot in traffic filled with much larger, higher vehicles, they’re mostly a danger to their occupants. I do feel like sky-high rigs with bumpers higher than your average Camry hood are bigger threat to other drivers in a collision (never mind what kind of fantastic handling improvements that come along with jacking up your truck).
    Not sure this is something that needs to exist as a primary reason to pull someone over – maybe if they’re otherwise driving like a jackass, then hit ’em with it?

    1. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

      I’ve seen many scary lift kits that use very, very long u-bolts to support blocks between the leafs and the axles. Those terrify me. And cranked torsion bars. Those scare me too.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        30+inch mudder tires on the freeway are another thing. What do they think will happen when they get a blowout at 70mph and one corner of the truck suddenly drops six inches?

  6. salguod Avatar

    Just another reason not to move to Massachusetts.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      Did you really need another? The accents alone….
      (Says the guy who caught a bunch of flack in college – in MA – for his ability to pronounce “car” correctly)

  7. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Around 1970 the cops would hassle us kids and write us up for every little technical violation. Having the body below the lowest point of the rim was one of them and we didn’t have those low profile tires like today. Loud mufflers and all sorts of modifications were grounds to harrass us.

  8. Cool_Cadillac_Cat Avatar

    I remember, back in college, before some of you people were born, I was pulled over late one night/early one morning, by the Colleyville, TX, po-leece, them claiming my lights weren’t “regulation” height.
    Said lights, all six of them, four regular-beam lights and two large, round Bosch fog/driving lights, were 26″, even, if measured from pavement to bulb. “Law” is 24″, even if some new vehicles have them at 22″, OEM.
    Granted, this was in the late-80s, on a lowered…but not stupidly, I still used it as a truck…1985.5 Nissan 720 short-bed, regular cab, pick-em-up.
    They decided to not write a citation, but instead wasted about 20 minutes of my time.

    1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      That sounds like a funny-furrin-too-small-to-be-a-real-truck-in-Tejas problem. Obviously, you were suspicious.

  9. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    Sounds like a very poorly framed law. The issue should be safety. In what way is the changed ride height of the vehicle creating a dangerous condition? Some ride height changes may greatly improve safety, and others create great hazard.

    1. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

      I agree, but that’s one of the things that’s sort of a natural by-product of the legal process: Laws tend to beget more laws. They could probably say “If a car is lowered/raised in this way, then it’s okay, but not if it’s lowered/raised in this way.” It’s unfortunate, but it’s much easier to tell a police officer “Enforce this [black and white] rule.”

  10. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    It’s quite clear here. All vehicles being used on the road have to have at least 4 inches/100mm clearance below the lowest part not on the suspension assembly, to the road surface at unladen ride height.
    Easily checked with a piece of 4X2 timber. Less clearance than this measure is dangerous because the vehicle can strike the road, unbalancing the handling and damaging the vehicle and the road.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      A 4×2 timber? Here in the US, a “2×4″ (like what’s used for framing houses) is actually 1-5/8″ x 3-5/8”.

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        For now.
        Always nice working on older houses built with true-to-name dimensional lumber – a “real” 2×4 (must be 4×2 down under ‘cuz everything’s backwards/upside down) is surprisingly beefy.

      2. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Exactly. Easily checked and with a bit of leeway, (in favour of the vehicle which might be slightly under). If one has to be that accurate, pumping up the tyres will raise the vehicle too.
        Our 100 X 50 is actually 94mm X 47mm rough sawn, which no-one uses any more as it all seems to be dressed. Actual dimension 90 x 45 depending on moisture content, cutting accuracy etc.
        We have standards, no doubt associated with North American and European ones, as all these things seem to be.
        The house I own and live in is made of rough sawn timber as it was put up in 1948. And, of course, the buildings I design now are made with dressed timber.

  11. discontinuuity Avatar

    As a Miata driver, I’ll say that there is absolutely no reason to lower a Miata more than two inches, unless maybe if you’re driving it on the racetrack only. They’re low enough stock to hit the bump stops over expansion joints. The car pictured looks pretty darn unsafe to me, and if I was a cop I’d pull it over and give them at least a warning.
    That said, certain cars looked really bitchin’ when they’re lowered a lot. But there’s a big difference between a Lincoln Continental slammed on airbags that never exceeds 35 mph, and a Miata with fucked up camber driving on the highway.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Agree 100%, slammed Miatas are all kinds of wrong, small drop is great, but I’ve had stock or near stock MK1 and 2s bottom out on some challenging mountain roads. I even know folks who’ve raised the height slightly and fitted a sump guard for multi venue autotests (sorta like autocross but more course memorisation and sometimes on loose surfaces)
      Still not crazy about “the man” making a bigger deal out of modification than is neccesary.

  12. neight428 Avatar

    I don’t see the harm to anyone other than the occupant. Potential harm doesn’t really meet the “there ought to be a law” threshold in my mind, especially when there are thousands of examples scurrying around the byways from which to draw data. As sketchy as 18″ long U-bolts look sandwiching a piece of railroad tie between spring and axle (and we’ve all seen it), let’s be honest, that truck is not going to see many miles of traffic.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      If one of those chuckleheads loses control of their slammed car or jacked truck in busy traffic, they could hit you.
      That’s why there’s a law, because the danger is not just to the occupants.
      It’s why I can’t bring myself to ride two-wheelers right now, despite how much I love it. It isn’t because I don’t feel I can control the bike, but because of every distracted jackass entering my lane, following too closely, and so on.

      1. neight428 Avatar

        They could certainly, but if the risk were that acute, given how many are out there, one would think it would be a measurable effect. I’d think beverages cause more second hand damage than improperly modified vehicles.

  13. JayP Avatar

    My MG was tagged in traffic by a Hyundai which was called in by the gas station attendant who saw it happen. City police showed up, saw the skidmarks I made, and warned the other driver he can’t change lanes under a signal light.
    My car, set up for DSP… lowered, DOT-ish slicks, lap belts, straight pipe exhaust with Supertrapp, no emissions and no cat. I miss Tennessee.

  14. marmer Avatar

    The language specifying no more than two inches of variation sure sounds to me like a catchall that could be used to give a cop probable cause to pull over anyone they want to harass or “search.” Rednecks, teenagers, people of color, and yes, ricers and suspected street racers. I’ll bet nine times out of ten when someone is pulled over for this they’re looking for drugs, drunk drivers, or guns. The one remaining time is probably when a vehicle really is dangerously low.

  15. SoldierofaDifferentStripe Avatar

    Just another way for taxachussets to rip off the motoring public.

  16. needthatcar Avatar

    There should be a kickstarter or something to help this kid get his car out of hock.