Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jeep Wrangler Mods - Sorting out the Law

As I was in the process of installing my new Barricade Trailforce HD Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier...



...I realized I needed to do some research on the 3rd brake light. My new bumper did not come with this light. So did that mean I needed to replace the factory 3rd brake light? 

Maryland law states -- 
"Section 22-206(a)(1): Every motor vehicle registered in this State and sold as a new vehicle after June 1, 1967, shall be equipped with at least two stop lamps."   

In the section on brake lights, there is no mention of a requirement for a third operable brake light.

But then... there is the Code of Maryland Regulations...These deal with the inspection of vehicles in Maryland. These regulations state that in order for a vehicle manufactured after 1985 to pass inspection, there must be a center operable brake light in addition to the side brake lights.   

According to Maryland law, if the statute (Transportation Article) is in conflict with the regulations (COMAR), then the statute is controlling. So an argument can be made that if you are stopped for no 3rd brake light, the stop is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, since the statute does not specifically allow an officer to stop for this. That means the statute should trump the regulation.

However, some judges will agree with the prosecutor that the officer can issue a repair order for a center brake light out and thus make a valid traffic stop for the purpose of writing the repair order. 

So since the law is not clear cut I just went ahead and played it safe. I ordered the Barricade Adjustable Brake Light Bracket w/LED light. Plus it was a fun, easy install. 


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