Mr. Tobin Tracy
Clr Alt Accessories Dist.
2 Washington Circle, Unit #3
Sandwich, MA 02563
Dear Mr. Tobin:
This is in reply to your letter of November 16, 2000, to the agency
asking for a special exemption under 49 U.S.C. 30114 from 49 U.S.C.
You wish "to import clear taillight assemblies deemed for show
and competition use as similarly outlined in [Section 30114]." You
state that "Our product will be labeled 'OFF ROAD AND COMPETITION
We appreciate your writing for an interpretation of this matter, but
must inform you that we cannot grant you an exemption of this nature,
for the reasons explained below.
Section 30112(a) requires that motor vehicle equipment imported into
the United States comply, and be certified as complying, with all
applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards. However, as an
exception to Section 30112(a), noncomplying products may be imported
pursuant to Section 30114 which allows the importation of noncomplying
motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment on such terms as the agency
decides are necessary "for research, investigations,
demonstrations, training, show or display, or competitive racing
events." You wish to import taillamp assemblies with clear lenses
for use on motorcycles among other types of vehicles. These assemblies
would not comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standard No. 108 that the light from taillamps be red. Although your
letter does not address the subject, it is likely that at least some of
the motorcycles could be driven on the public roads of the United
Over the past few years we have received numerous complaints from
motor vehicle law enforcement personnel around the country who have
cited drivers of vehicles licensed for on-road use whose original
taillamps have been replaced with taillamps with clear lenses. We have
investigated a number of manufacturers and importers of these taillamps
and find that most of them have advertised or labeled the lamps for
off-road or competition use purposes. Notwithstanding
such labels, this is not the purpose for which many of these lamps are
being bought and used. The use of terms such as "off-road,"
"show use only," and "competition use only" have no
exclusionary meaning under Federal law, and do not excuse a person using
them from any responsibilities that may apply. Any item of motor vehicle
lighting equipment manufactured to replace lighting equipment that is
required on a new vehicle by Standard No. 108 must itself comply with
Standard No. 108. To date, we know of no motorcycles being
manufactured that are equipped with taillamps having clear lenses. I
enclose a copy of a related interpretation that we furnished Mitch L.
Williams of Hella, Inc., on July 17, 1998.
In short, motor vehicle
replacement lighting equipment must conform to the same requirements as
original equipment, and be certified to those requirements, in order to
be imported into the United States for sale in the aftermarket.
We will not grant an exception to this requirement.
Acting Chief Counsel