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The SC Legislature has just passed a bill to ban the “Carolina Squat” vehicle modification

South Congaree, SC 05/15/2023 (Captain Chris Garner) - The South Carolina Legislature has just passed a bill to ban the “Carolina Squat,” a vehicle modification that has been growing in popularity over the past few years. This modification, most often made by young men who drive four-wheel drive trucks or SUVs, has brought complaints from citizens who must share the road with squatted vehicles. Other drivers say that the change in the angle and trajectory of these squatted vehicle’s headlights, plus the reduced visibility the driver has of the roads makes this modification unsafe for anyone else who is on the road.

Squatting a vehicle lowers the suspension in the rear and raises it in the front. If you look at the vehicle from the side, it does appear as if it is “squatting.” The new legislation will make vehicle modifications in which the front fenders are lifted higher than four or more inches above the rear fender, illegal. Those in violation would be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $300 and a 12-month suspension in the driver’s license for a third or subsequent offense.

The Senate passed the legislation with a vote of 37-1. It passed unanimously in the S.C. House with a vote of 102-0. The law will go into effect 180 days after being signed into law by SC Governor Henry McMaster. During the 180-day period between the governor signing the bill and when it comes into effect, law enforcement officers may stop squatted vehicles and issue them warnings for driving a vehicle with this type of modification.

According to Captain Chris Garner of the South Congaree Police Department’s Special Operations Division, the Carolina Squat is very impractical, and extremely dangerous. “A lot of issues, problems, setbacks, and liabilities arise when squatting a truck or SUV,” Captain Garner said during a recent interview. “Not only does it change the look, but it also changes the function and handling of the vehicle. The center of gravity for the vehicle is compromised.”

Garner said that people who squat their vehicles usually lose all their capability to tow a load because the tail end of their vehicle is already on the ground. “Even worse, if the front end of the vehicle is higher than the rear end, the headlights are going to be pointed towards the sky, the tops of the trees, instead of illuminating the road ahead. Third, the vehicle being at such a severe angle compromises the driver's view of what's ahead, which makes it completely unsafe,” Garner said.

Depending on the angle of the squat, their visibility is impeded. Likewise, increasing the height of your front fender by a few inches can adjust the angle of your headlights and where they are aimed. This reduces night-time visibility and can blind oncoming drivers. In most cases, the adjusters in headlights just can’t accommodate the steep change in angle to set the headlights to factory specifications which increases the chance of an accident.

"Since squatted trucks have a higher center of gravity, it makes them more prone to rollovers," Captain Garner said. "They also handle poorly and are difficult to control, especially at high speeds. Another problem with squatted vehicles is that they put extra stress on the drivetrain."

The cost of squatting a truck or SUV ranges from $600 to over $10,000 depending on the method used and other factors. Soon you can expect to be ticketed or may even loose you driver’s license if you operate this type of vehicle on South Carolina’s Road. In closing Captain Garner said, “When you add the total cost associated with squatting your vehicle, the fines, the potential to lose your diver’s license or your life, it really isn’t worth it.”


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