Misc. Legal Stuff

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So who enforces FMVSS No. 108?

NHTSA (with regulated parties) and States (with vehicle operators) that have adopted the standard into its motor vehicle code.

So what is the NHTSA’s authority?

Chapter 301 of Title 49, United States Code (USC), commonly referred to as the Safety Act, authorizes the NHTSA to issue and enforce Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) applicable to the manufacture of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. 

What is "DOT Approved"?

"DOT Approved" is a false statement.  DOT does not certify or approve the compliance of motor vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment.  The Safety Act establishes a self‑certification system (§30115) in which the manufacturers and/or importers of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment must certify that their products comply with all applicable FMVSSs in effect on the date of manufacture.  (see interp)

Title 49 USC §30112 prohibits the manufacturing, selling, and importing of noncomplying motor vehicles and equipment by regulated parties (manufacturers, importers, distributors, dealers, or motor vehicle repair businesses).

So how does this relate to my automotive business?

Title 49 USC §30122 prohibits a manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business from "making inoperative" any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard prescribed under this chapter.  (see interp)

Can NHTSA enforce these laws against me, the consumer?

No.  The Federal laws apply to the products of regulated parties (manufacturers, importers, distributors, dealers, or motor vehicle repair businesses).  However, if your state has adopted FMVSS No. 108 into its state law, then these laws may be enforceable against vehicle operators by State and Local law enforcement.


This page modified on June 04, 2001

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This site is not affiliated with any Federal, State, or Local organization.  The goal is to be as factual as possible, however, the views expressed on this site are the opinions of the author and should not be used to determine the legality of motor vehicle equipment in accordance with Federal laws.  If you require a legal interpretation of your specific situation concerning FMVSS No. 108, you should contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Office of Chief Counsel.