Modifying cars is a big business, but sometimes a modification receives the legislative ax. That's what has happened to the "Carolina Squat" in Virginia, where Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a bill banning the practice from the state. The bill's signing comes after a 2021 accident killed a Virginia man, BJ Upton. A truck with the Carolina Squat crossed the center line and collided head-on with Upton's vehicle.
The Carolina Squat originated from Baja Trophy Trucks that lowered the rear suspension so that the rear tires could hit the ground first after a jump. That practice has made its way to the street, where owners will modify their cars to have a raised front suspension and a lowered rear one. However, this does more than change a vehicle's appearance.
The squat shifts the vehicle's weight rearward, taking it off the front tires and putting it onto the rear, which changes how a vehicle handles. It also lifts the front bumper up and away from other bumpers it needs to connect with if there's a crash. Bumpers are designed to crash into other bumpers. It also makes it much harder for the driver to see forward, and it points the headlights into the sky instead of down the road in the direction you are traveling.
North Carolina proposed and passed a similar bill last year, banning the mod from the state and attaching a heavy penalty – mandatory license revocation for at least a year. The bill went into effect on December 1. Virginia's bill is a bit tamer, making a violation a primary offense that allows police to stop the driver. However, a violation is only punishable by a fine of up to $250, but that may increase.
Modifying vehicles is a great way for owners to add some personal pizzazz to their cars, but safety should be a high priority. Many vehicle mods can change how a car handles and operates, which can increase the chances or the severity of an accident. Neither bill bans modifying a car's suspension outright, but you will have problems if one bumper is higher than the other.