But there’s a catch…
Your average person would assume the only reason anyone would want to remove a VIN plate from a car would be to commit fraud. That might explain why so many states have laws on the books criminalizing the activity, accompanied by harsh penalties. Arizona used to make it a felony across the board. Then H.B. 2480 passed the state legislature and Governor Doug Ducey signed it into law, creating a legal loophole.
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There have been problems with laws criminalizing VIN plate removal. For example, ClassicCars.com points out a frustrating case out of Kansas where a man purchased a restored ’59 Corvette in 2017. Bringing the classic sports car back home from Indiana where he bought it, the man ran into big problems while trying to register it. After authorities determined the VIN plate on the dash had been removed and reattached, the state seized the car and still have it sitting in an impound lot.
What the new law in Arizona doesn’t allow is fraudulent activity, despite providing provisions for removing and reattaching a VIN plate. For a person to dodge a possible class 5 felony, the language in H.B. 2480 allows for this activity on vehicles “manufactured before 1981.” Further conditions apply, specifically if this is “necessary for repair or restoration.”
On top of that, vehicles won’t be seized as contraband as long as they fall under the exception. However, the bill says anyone “in possession of a motor vehicle knowing or having reason to know” the VIN plate has bee removed or altered without state permission will still be at risk of a class 5 felony.
Instrumental in getting this law passed was auction house Barrett-Jackson, which owns ClassicCars.com. “This probably is the most significant collector car legislation in many decades,” said Barrett-Jackson president Steve Davis. “Our hope is that the other states will use this as a precedent-setting moment.”
The Kansas legislature is working to pass a law similar to the one in Arizona. If that happens, which many expect it will, the owner of the ’59 Corvette will finally be reunited with his car.
Photos via Speed Digital