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Are SF-97 Military Vehicles Eligable For A Title?

Military vehicles sold at surplus auctions, such as those on GovPlanet, have faced increased scrutiny in various states over the past year. A notable development in this realm comes from Colorado, where the Department of Revenue, akin to the DMV, sent letters to Humvee owners, canceling their vehicle titles and reclassifying them as OHVs (Off-Highway Vehicles).

Federal Government Bulletins Spark State Actions

The root cause of these changes can be traced back to federal government bulletins issued to Department of Motor Vehicles offices across all 50 states over the last 18 months. These bulletins emphasize that certain military vehicles do not meet the standards set by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for highway use.

State Responses: Canceling Titles and Issuing OHV Designations

In response to federal directives, states like Colorado are taking definitive actions to comply. The Colorado DMV’s move to cancel titles and issue OHV designations reflects a broader trend. The federal government has employed financial leverage, withholding certain highway funds from states that continue to title military vehicles for road use.

Implications for Vehicle Owners: The Shift to OHV Designations

For owners of surplus military vehicles, this change has significant implications. The vehicles, initially considered roadworthy, are now being redefined as off-highway vehicles. While some states may allow exemptions for historical purposes, such as parades or museum displays, regular everyday road use is being restricted.

Transitioning Titles and Potential Setbacks

In Colorado, the DMV stated that these vehicles had only held titles for off-highway use, and vehicle owners would receive new OHV titles. This transition is not unique to Colorado, and many states are reviewing their stance on the road legality of surplus military vehicles. The shift from road-legal titles to OHV titles is becoming a standardized practice.

Challenges and Revocation of Titles

Owners who have purchased surplus vehicles, hoping to utilize them for regular road use, may encounter challenges. Some states have revoked existing titles, while others are rejecting new applications for road use. Even if a vehicle manages to secure a road-use registration, there’s a looming concern that the federal government may exert pressure on states to rescind these permissions in the future.

A Cautionary Note: Verifying Road Use Status

For individuals eyeing surplus military vehicles for road use, the cautionary tale from various states underscores the need for diligence. It’s crucial not to rely solely on historical precedents or the presence of these vehicles on the road as indicators of road legality. Instead, prospective owners should proactively engage with their local DMV, seeking written confirmation of the status and permissions associated with surplus military vehicles.

Navigating Uncertain Terrain

The evolving landscape surrounding surplus military vehicles exemplifies the intricate intersection of federal and state regulations. Vehicle owners, dealerships, and enthusiasts alike must stay informed and adapt to the shifting terrain. As the federal government continues to emphasize non-compliance with D.O.T and EPA standards, the road ahead for surplus military vehicles remains uncertain, requiring a cautious and well-informed approach.

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