There's one whole section of an eastern state's vehicle code devoted to the laws on hauling Christmas Trees. Some states go into detail about what color a school bus must be, and what must be done if it is sold to a private party. One state still uses the word "policeman" in its legal text. Another state issues a license plate of a distinctive color for people who have committed certain offenses. Try being inconspicuous with that! Get caught going over 100 mph in some states and you and your car both go to jail.
How do we know that, and why should you care? We've come upon an extensive information resource that will supplement a car enthusiast's knowledge of what may be legal or illegal where he or she lives or might be planning to travel. There's an outfit called Gould Publications that puts out what has to be the largest variety of legal references (on CDs) this side of a courtroom. Sure, there are plenty of law books to read and go through if you want to sit in a library or a judge's chambers, but for those of us who really aren't attracted to such environments, these CDs are great. They cover all 50 states and portions of the Federal Law. They're described as "Vehicle Laws: All 50 States and Federal." The title alone grabs the attention of car enthusiasts, or anyone who's involved as a builder or driver. Being able to get information through a computer, which requires little work, beats trying to find a subject in dusty old books kept downtown somewhere.
Once this CD is open, you'll be treated to a plethora (see, we're already using legal-sounding words) of laws about equipment, inspections, traffic, registration, and a multitude of other subjects. Just put in the key words and voila (that's a French legal word, we think), up jumps a bunch of laws that let you know what can and what can't be done in various states. Our experience with this CD tells us that it is user-friendly equipment. In other words, if we can do it, anyone can. (By the way, the sample copy that Gould sent us can't be used by anyone here to give legal information to our readers, so please don't call.)
We were attracted to the CD that covered the entire nation, but there are CDs for each and every state and for subjects other than traffic laws. With hopes that we don't incur the wrath of certain segments of the population, we point out that there are firearm laws in all 50 states. Did you know there are certain states that allow those who are permitted to carry firearms in another state to carry them in their state? On the contrary, there are states where another state's permission just won't cut it. And how do you legally carry firearms in those states? This disc could keep the average person out of trouble when trying to decide whether or not to carry a weapon between states, how to do it, what's legal, and what kind of trouble one can get into for not even knowing the law.
There are discs that cover drug laws (we're thinking that's not going to be a big seller with our readership), criminal laws, and fish and game laws (now, there we might have a hit). There are about 50 different discs that cover New York laws alone (let's hope you don't get in trouble there). There's one disc that covers commercial laws (warranties, credit, and consumer protection)-that might be handy for people like us who are always buying stuff for cars.
Just as with any product, there is nothing magic about any of the information contained in these references. Someone, somewhere, had to take every applicable law in every law book and enter it into a database. What you wind up with are laws that a person can easily read and access that inform what can legally be done with a car, in a car, or to a car. Some laws jump right out and say "shall not," but some laws are a little more vague and need some interpretation. Maybe, when we see that kind of law, it would help to ask a cop or lawyer for help. Advice from the local heat is often cheaper, but if you pay a lawyer, you can at least ask for the answer in writing, which is better. If you read a law and are confused in any way, don't make the mistake of not asking for help. Asking for help is definitely better than ending up in trouble.
The great part about having an extensive resource on hand is that at least a car builder can get a "heads-up" on what might be a problem when it comes to registering or driving his or her car when the project is finally done. It's better to consider the laws when building than to find out later that the car can't be legally driven and must be rebuilt.
The information on this CD can be valuable if there comes a time to dispute a ticket or ruling. We recommend that car enthusiasts in every state buy a copy of their own state's motor vehicle code. That's still a good idea, but you might need a copy of the state's vehicle code where you got a ticket, or where you want to register a car. It might be handy to have information that covers other states.
Here's the other thing to consider about data such as this: it ain't free. Prices on these discs vary from just a few dollars to several hundred. Depending on your needs and resources, it might be a good idea to have your company or club buy a set and keep it on file for members only. There are even ways to keep this information updated on a regular basis, so that when new laws are passed, your information stays current. Since we've been running on so much about this, we should explain how to check it out for yourself (see the source box below).