LOBBY NC

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It’s Time.

SXS are road legal in 22 states, but not in NC! 

Most all the other states, where SXS aren’t currently legal (the other 28), are honoring SXS with out of state registrations tags for road use. All of them except NC, that is, as of recently! Simply check out Street Legal SXS’s Facebook Group to view the SXS riding in the 28 states with out-of-state tags where there is no supporting legislation. You can also see 30+ SXS riding on the roads in NC without much issue on this group as well.

So there isn’t a question and to avoid unwanted attention from law enforcement by running South Dakota or Montana tags – let’s help NC become the 23rd state to fully legalize SXS for road use. Let’s lobby the NC legislature to amend House Bill 307 (S.L.2020-40).

SXS are much safer than motorcycles, dual sport bikes, mopeds, three-wheeled autocycles, and even quite a few mini trucks, cars, and the list goes on. 

NC is currently losing revenue to folks leaving the state to take their SXS to Tennessee (TN) and West Virginia (WV) to ride. In addition to that, NC could also be generating additional revenue from taxes for the folks who would like to register their SXS for road use.

Due to these reasons – it should be a no-brainer for NC to follow the other 22 states examples. Let’s push to make it happen!

KICK-OFF EFFORT

My name is Kyle Wrightenberry and I’m the owner/operator of Unseen Pass.

I’m heading the effort to lobby North Carolina (NC) to fully legalize SXS for road use and become the 23rd state to do so. I’m open to and would appreciate help from fellow SXS/UTV owners in NC.

In case you are unfamiliar with my story, I started Unseen Pass Inc., which was a street-legal SXS rental company based out of West Jefferson, NC (Ashe County, NC).

Unseen Pass, West Jefferson, NC.

You can read my full story here: https://unseenpass.com/about-2/

In late August, I was issued two statues by a representative from the DMV basically stating that (1) NC doesn’t honor my South Dakota registered four-wheeled motorcycles/quadracycles – as reciprocal vehicles between the two states, pretty much still considering them UTVs vs what the other states classify them as and (2) if I’m to rent them, my renters are subject to incur a $100 rental infraction.

Here are the two statutes:

It was also later brought to my attention that anyone running an SD, MT, or any other tag on an SXS/UTV, no matter what classification by other states (autocycle, quadracycle, custom vehicle) will be subject to an improper registration ticket. I’ll have you know this is after SXS/UTVs have operated on NC roads like this for over two years without being ticketed that I’m able to find. Check this out (two of many):

The representative from the DMV said because I have a business, this brought on the scrutiny on the DMV cracking down on SXS running out of state tags in order to make them legal in-state.

After that briefing by the DMV, many officials in the town urged me to rent them if that was all they could get me for. Yes – you heard right – they told me to put them on the road based off those two rental statues. So, I decided to add an indemnity hold-harmless agreement in my renter’s paperwork as protection for renters if they were ever charged the infraction and ultimately decided to rent my out my SXS for road use.

Two weeks later, I was issued improper registration tickets by a state trooper (NCSHP) and three of my renters were stopped, luckily one was only issued a warning. 

That’s when everything came to a head and I decided to reach out to the SHP to get more clarity. The trooper over the area is super nice and thought it would be a good idea to bring me in and speak with him, his boss, a guy from DMV License and Theft, and the three police chiefs for the towns in Ashe County. These guys wanted me to hear me out and also wanted me to hear them out. They were very nice to me and I have a lot of respect for them for doing this!

I told them how I felt, how I tried to do the right steps, and etc. – along with everything else that’s probably going through your minds right now. You heard that right. The local roundtable of officers in and over Ashe County, NC let me know they really hate the situation and that they wished it wasn’t so, but they are going to have to follow the NC Attorney General’s interpretation and stance on the law (those two statues above). They also stated how they took an oath to uphold and respect the law, which I respect. Before this meeting took place, from my understanding, a few of them also spoke with the local DA who then spoke with a judge, which further solidified local law enforcement’s stance against me renting my SXS for road legal purposes.

From the way I understood, the DA basically will choose to prosecute me because they don’t want the locals riding their SXS on the road because the government bodies fear of lawsuits and the fact that allowing SXS to ride on the road could cause the SHP to devote additional resources to policing them.

From that meeting, basically, the SHP said NC will also no longer honor South Dakota (SD) or Montana (MT) Registrations for SXS/UTVs operating in NC. The First Sargent of the NCSHP has made it a priority to inform the other districts in NC know that NC will not honor SD or MT tags as well. If you’re still running on them, you’re running on borrowed time, I hate to tell you. This is why we should stick together and get NC to legalize SXS for road use.

Long story short, independent of each other, my attorney and the roundtable encouraged me to lobby to get the law changed to include SXS. I’ve spoken with several attorneys until I found one who was passionate about my situation. He said despite a number of different ways I could structure it to be legal, it won’t stop law enforcement from harassing me.

So, battling the tickets under equal protection under the law and lobbying are the way to go. 

MT, SD, & OUT-OF-STATE SXS TAGS

I’d like to get this across upfront – regarding those advocating for Montana (MT) or South Dakota (SD) tags, registrations, and etc. for out of state residents – these tags will (like should) only be honored IF you are just passing through NC. That’s how the law reads according to some.

With this said – this doesn’t mean you want be harassed by law enforcement OR that they won’t give you a ticket if you’re running out of state tags. They very likely will and unfortunately could issue you tickets!

NC is also not choosing to honor them as reciprocal vehicles, as they still consider them UTVs – not what other states classify them as (i.e. autocycles, quadrcycles, mini-trucks, and etc.).

THE NEW NC LAW, S.L.2020-40, DOESN’T WORK FOR SXS

For all you guys that think that House Bill 307 / S.L. 2020-40 will work for road legalizing your SXS (RZR 1000, etc.) – it WON’T work! We understand that there are many rumors out there, but it flat out won’t work.

To be clear – S.L. 2020-40 that came into effect on October 1st doesn’t include SXS. The briefing to the inspectors all over NC received from the DMV, as you guys can see from Walker Mullen’s Facebook Post on Street Legal SXS’s below, is that this new law is only good for Mahindra Roxors.

DMV Notification to NC Inspectors

This was no accident, as Mahindra lobbied the NC Legislature to get their Roxors street legal to increase Roxor sales. Mayberry did the same thing in 2016 to get their mini trucks street legal to increase mini truck sales. The law basically says it excludes SXS based on cc.  

Here’s how the law reads.

SECTION 1. G.S. 20‑4.01(27) is amended by adding a new sub‑subdivision to read:”g2. Modified utility vehicle. – A motor vehicle that (i) is manufactured for off‑road use with equipment required by G.S. 20‑121.1(2), except a vehicle identification number, and (ii) has four wheels, an engine displacement greater than 2,400 cubic centimeters, an overall length of 142 inches or greater, an overall width of 58 inches or greater, an overall height of 70 inches or greater, a maximum speed capability of 40 miles per hour or greater, and does not require an operator or passenger to straddle a seat. “Modified utility vehicle” does not include an all‑terrain vehicle, golf cart, or utility vehicle, as defined in this section, or a riding lawn mower.”

S.L.2020-40 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

S.L. 2020-40 is Unconstitutional

As of October 1st, House Bill 307 (S.L.2020-40) changed the NC Motor Vehicle Code to essentially allow for modified utility vehicles under 660 cc and over 2400 cc to operate on the roads if they meet certain requirements or safety criteria.

It discriminates against mid-sized modified utility vehicles that have from 661 cc to 2399 cc; therefore, making the law unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

The law can’t exclude modified utility vehicles from 661 cc to 2399 cc, such as a 1000 cc SXS, if vehicles in this range have the same safety requirements as the vehicles below 660 cc and above 2400 cc. The 14th Amendment allows for equal protection under the law and regulates interstate commerce among many other areas. Corporate interest has been able to manipulate this law to their benefit and it appears NC legislatures haven’t done their due diligence, I’m assuming as of this point in time.

MAHINDRA HAS BEEN SUED

This will be to NC SXS owners favor, as these are the guys that lobbied the NC legislature to have their Roxors street legalized and the new law, S.L.2020-40; this was a result of Mahindra’s effort. This is Mahindra’s bill, essentially. Mahindra is also in hot water, as Jeep sued them for copycatting in July and won  – so this will go in our favor for NC to amend the law as Mahindra is known for breaking the law or pushing the bounds…. It’s a good chance NC legislatures will perceive that they’ve been duped by Mahindra for not bringing to their attention that S.L.2020-40 is unconstitutional and discriminatory. 

You can read more about Jeep v Mahindra here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-11/fiat-chrysler-wins-trade-case-against-mahindra-over-jeep-copy

NC LEGISLATURES

In order to get S.L.2020-40 amended or changed to included SXS – I’ll need to meet with NC legislatures to find a representative to sponsor the new bill or amendment. Once we have a sponsor, from the way I understand it, then it will need to be brought up in front of a committee or two before it reaches the house floor. If it makes it through the house, it will have to go through the senate, and then to the governor to sign off on. This new bill or amendment could die at any step in the process – but typically, a bill like this receives bi-partisan support, and due to it being a few small adjustments, it should make it through quicker than most.

PLAN OF ACTION

As of right now, my plan of action, which is subject to change, includes:

  1. Developing a presentation for legislatures as to why SXS need to be street-legalized
  2. Highlighting what should be amended in the current law and proposing what should be taken out, along with text modifications.
  3. Scheduling meetings with NC legislators.
  4. Meeting with legislators.

BENEFITS FOR NC

It will be to NC’s favor to amend this S.L.2020-40 due to the following main reasons:

  1. NC is losing revenue for out of state SXS rentals and tourism to Tennessee (TN), West Virginia (WV), and the other 20 states where they are legal. 
  2. NC could be generating more taxes if they allowed SXS to be tagged and registered for road use in the state
  3. The current law, S.L.2020-40, is unconstitutional

I’m convicted that the pros outweigh the cons for NC to legalize SXS and I won’t take the time to list them all out in this post; these will be listed out in the presentation I developed for the legislatures. 

For heavens sake, look at the UTV rental places in Gatlinburg, TN:

Google search: Gatlinburg TN UTV Rentals

This could be Asheville, Boone, West Jefferson, and the list goes on…

If UTVs were really that dangerous, there wouldn’t be so many rental places in Gatlinburg, TN nor would 22 states have already legalized them for road use.

Text Mods to S.L.2020-40

Here’s how the current law reads: https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/SessionLaws/HTML/2019-2020/SL2020-40.html

SECTION 1. G.S. 20‑4.01(27) is amended by adding a new sub‑subdivision to read:”g2. Modified utility vehicle. – A motor vehicle that (i) is manufactured for off‑road use with equipment required by G.S. 20‑121.1(2), except a vehicle identification number, and (ii) has four wheels, an engine displacement greater than 2,400 cubic centimeters, an overall length of 142 inches or greater, an overall width of 58 inches or greater, an overall height of 70 inches or greater, a maximum speed capability of 40 miles per hour or greater, and does not require an operator or passenger to straddle a seat. “Modified utility vehicle” does not include an all‑terrain vehicle, golf cart, or utility vehicle, as defined in this section, or a riding lawn mower.”

As far as the text mods to the current law, here’s what I have this far (my changes in red):

SECTION 1. G.S. 20‑4.01(27) “g2.      Modified utility vehicle. – A motor vehicle that (i) is manufactured for off‑road use with equipment required by G.S. 20‑121.1(2), except a parking brake and a vehicle identification number, and (ii) has four wheels, an engine displacement greater than 500 cubic centimeters, an overall length of 110 inches or greater, an overall width of 55 inches or greater, an overall height of 50 inches or greater, a maximum speed capability of 40 miles per hour or greater, and does not require an operator or passenger to straddle a seat. “Modified utility vehicle” does not include a golf cart, or utility vehicle, as defined in this section, or a riding lawn mower.”

This legislation is also tied to GS_20-121.1 which sets the safety standards for these vehicles. The only thing I think that needs to be changed is making an exception to the parking brake, which doesn’t make sense for SXS with “park” to have a parking brake. Here’s the link to the current safety requirements” https://www.ncleg.gov/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/BySection/Chapter_20/GS_20-121.1.pdf

If NC amends the bill with these current changes, then our SXS will be able to be road legal. If any of you think it should read differently, I’m welcome to your feedback. Please email me at kyle [at] unseenpass [dot] com. I have to spell it out like this in order to not be spammed lol.

LOVE YOUR HELP

Let’s get SXS back on the road in NC!

Street Legal SXS at gas station in Ashe County, NC

I’d be grateful for help with the following:

  1. Intros to NC Legislatures (for those who have current relationships)
  2. Research on what has been done in the 22 states where SXS are fully legal, like details on who spearheaded the efforts and what steps did they take to legalize SXS for road use
  3. Share lobby experience, that is if anyone has actual lobbying experience, or is well-read
  4. Share opinions on text changes for the current bill (like, should cc’s be an open range, or should the cc requirements be taken out completely?)
  5. Share this post with other SXS owners in NC to help gather additional support!

Again, it’s to the benefit of this group to support this effort – as getting SXS road legal in NC will make SXS reciprocal vehicles between other states; therefore, even more folks in NC could use out of state registrations if they so chose.

I may put up a Patreon or GoFundMe Page soon to help fast track my efforts. Once I do, I’ll update this post.

I’m looking forward to working with everyone and getting the law change to accommodate SXS in NC! Please like and share this post. Also, if you’d like to offer additional support, please let me know.

Cheers,

Kyle

kyle [at] unseenpass [dot] com

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