South Carolina Auto Shops Ready to Help Owners Comply with ‘Carolina Squat’ Law

Now that the six-month grace period has ended, owners of vehicles can be hit with fines and loss of driving privileges.

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As a new "Carolina Squat" law takes full effect in South Carolina, auto repair shops are gearing up to assist car owners in meeting the new regulations, which could come with significant costs. The law penalizes drivers whose car's front fender is raised 4 or more inches above the height of the rear fender.

Joey Lemmon, owner of Hound Dog 4x4 in Columbia, SC, told News 19 how the pandemic initially disrupted the auto repair industry. "We had a lot of parts not being able to get shipped and people were waiting on parts for weeks and months, multiple months. It was just really difficult, different to see how quick something could change just shutting everything down," he said.

Now, Lemmon said his shop has returned to pre-pandemic operational levels. “We can get most of our stuff if its in stock with our distributors within one to two days at most. We're back up to pretty much where we were; we can have just about any part there is within a week."

The law went into effect Nov. 12, 2023, but included a 180-day grace period. Now that the grace period has ended, mechanics are now ready to help car owners bring their vehicles into compliance. However, the costs for these adjustments can be steep.

"It can range anywhere from something as simple as $400 or $500 up into a couple of thousand dollars just depending on what all the vehicle's gonna need," Lemmon explained.

Under the new law, drivers face a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second, and a $300 fine with the loss of driving privileges for a year on the third offense.

William Bennett, a master trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said the law aims to prevent future collisions caused by poor driver visibility of the roadway or other vehicles. Bennett said the modified stance can also change the angle of the "squatted" vehicle's headlights as seen by other drivers, momentarily blinding them.

"That could be a cause of some collisions happening and so that's ultimately, with us enforcing these laws, like the Squat law, we're trying to prevent collisions from happening," Bennett told the news outlet.

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