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Don’t Buy VIN Plates & Titles

In the vast landscape of vehicle transactions, the quest for a VIN plate or VIN number plate might lead you down unconventional paths. While it’s possible to stumble upon platforms offering these plates, it’s crucial to navigate this territory with a clear understanding of the legal ramifications. In this article, we’ll explore the common scenarios surrounding VIN plates, shed light on potential legal pitfalls, and provide insights on the exceptions that exist.

The Allure of VIN Plates: A Double-Edged Sword

It’s not uncommon to come across avenues offering VIN plates for sale or companies creating them from scratch. Some might even include a piece of the cowling and a title for added convenience. However, the allure of obtaining or replacing a VIN plate comes with a significant caveat – the legal implications.

The Federal Offense: Altering or Removing VIN Numbers

Before delving into the exceptions, it’s essential to recognize the severity of altering or removing VIN numbers. Section 18 of the United States Code explicitly labels this act as a federal felony. Knowingly removing, obliterating, tampering with, or altering a motor vehicle’s identification number can result in fines and imprisonment for up to five years. The reason behind this stringent stance is to prevent identity theft-like scenarios where a vehicle’s true history is concealed.

Exceptions to the Rule: When is VIN Plate Alteration Allowable?

While altering or removing VIN numbers is a federal offense, certain exceptions exist under specific conditions:

  1. Scrap Metal Processor or Motor Vehicle Demolisher: If the removal is performed by a scrap metal processor or motor vehicle demolisher complying with state law and treating the vehicle as scrap, it is allowable.
  2. Necessary for Repair: VIN plate removal for repair purposes is a gray area. It’s permissible if it is deemed necessary for repair. However, compliance with state laws, notification procedures, and proper documentation is crucial.
  3. In Accordance with State Law or Authorized by the Attorney General: If the removal is in accordance with state law or authorized by the Attorney General under the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, it falls within the realms of legality.

Navigating Legitimate VIN Plate Alterations

Legitimate reasons for altering or removing VIN plates may arise, such as during vehicle repair or restoration. However, it’s paramount to adhere to state laws and ensure proper documentation and notification processes are followed. Law enforcement, especially State Police, should be involved in the inspection before, during, and after any alterations to prevent misunderstandings.

Legal Counsel for VIN Plate Concerns

If you find yourself in a situation where VIN plate alterations seem unavoidable or necessary, seeking legal counsel is imperative. Attorneys specializing in automotive law can provide tailored advice, ensuring you navigate the intricate legal landscape without falling afoul of federal or state regulations.

Proceed with Caution

While the allure of acquiring or altering VIN plates might be tempting, it’s crucial to proceed with caution. The legal consequences of VIN tampering are severe and can lead to federal charges. Understanding the exceptions, adhering to state laws, and seeking legal guidance are essential steps to ensure that your actions remain within the bounds of the law. Remember, the identity of a vehicle is tied to its VIN, and any alterations should be approached with the utmost care and legality.

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