Rhode Island's Authoritarian Government Has Banned All 30 Kei Trucks In The State

He’s just a little guy! - Photo: Matthew Kane matthewkane, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
He’s just a little guy! - Photo: Matthew Kane matthewkane, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Back in 2021, the Rhode Island DMV took a page out of Maine’s book and started canceling registrations for imported kei trucks. Now the state is at it again, asking owners of already-registered kei trucks to turn in their registrations — but this time, those owners have help from state government.

State senator and honorary car guy Lou DiPalma introduced a bill to grandfather in registrations of kei trucks processed before the 2021 cutoff date. It’s a half-measure, only preserving existing registrations without protecting new purchases, but it’s a step in the right direction. Local news station WPRI spoke with the state senator:

“One of my constituents … called the DMV to say, ‘Can I register this?’ He was told ‘Yes,’” DiPalma said. “So he … was not going to purchase the vehicle and go acquire it if he couldn’t register it.”

DiPalma said his constituents were “taken aback” when they got notices from the DMV this year asking them to turn in their registrations and keep their Kei vehicles off the road.


“What the bill seeks to do is grandfather everybody who has [a Kei vehicle] and has it registered. It would allow you to re-register if you had it prior to 2021,” DiPalma explained.


The DMV’s reasoning here focuses on safety, claiming that because kei trucks were never built to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, they aren’t safe enough for road use in the States. This is an interesting approach to take, given that FMVSS didn’t exist before 1967 and only regulated seatbelts before 1968.

I wonder if the state is also demanding that owners turn in registrations for ‘65 Mustangs, or ’30s and ’40s hot rods. Given that those cars were also never built to meet FMVSS, it’s only fair that they also be removed from Rhode Island’s roads posthaste. Maybe DiPalma would sponsor that bill too.

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