In a recent article, I criticized the lifting-and-lowering technique known as the "Carolina Squat," suggesting it makes a vehicle look "like it was dropped off a five-story building with 10,000 pounds of bricks in the bed."
More than 70,000 people showed they have no sense of humor by petitioning to have the practice banned in North Carolina.
Obligingly, the state's House of Representatives proposed a ban the Senate agreed and Governor Cooper signed the bill into law. It goes into effect Dec. 1.
UPDATE 12/4/2021: The Carolina Squat law went into effect this week. It is now against the law in the state for a vehicle to have a front fender four or more inches higher than the rear—and now a similar bill has been drawn up in the South Carolina legislature.
Okay, I'm sorry I made fun of the Carolina Squat. I'm sorry I mentioned that my friend Keith, who used to own an off-road shop, called that genre of trucks "squatters and poopers." I’m sorry I said that their exhaust always sounds like someone threw a string of M-80s into a half-full metal Porti-Potti.
Actually, I didn’t say that, but I should have. For some reason, squatted trucks all have the same exhaust note, and it’s "1978 Chrysler Cordoba with cracked exhaust manifolds, played through Limp Bizkit's stage amplifiers." Trucks that are jacked up in the front and lowered in the rear–the aforementioned Carolina Squat—are dumb, but I don't think they should be illegal. They're on their way to that status, though, as Governor Cooper signed a bill to swat the squat from our roads.
House Bill 692 says: "A private passenger automobile shall not be modified or altered by elevating more than three inches from the manufacturer's specified height in the front and lowering the automobile more than two inches from the specified height in the rear." Well, you can do that, but you can't drive such a thing on a public road. And if you do, and you're written up for it three times, you can lose your license for a year.
Despite my regular use of legal jargon, Latin, et cetera, I'm not a lawyer. But it seems like the North Carolina House isn’t exactly banning the Carolina Squat, here. To meet the criteria, your truck (or donk, or really-go-your-own-way Eagle Premier) has to be both jacked up in the front and lowered in the back by a total of at least five inches. If you lift both ends, you can go six inches—and anyone who's driven five miles in North Carolina has probably seen a truck jacked up higher than that.
The new law raises a lot of questions, namely: How are cops going to measure this? Will they have to become experts in Chevy Tahoe suspension geometry (of squatted SUVs, 98 percent seem to be Tahoes)? I'm assuming this will work the same way it does with window tint, which is to say the cops will have some way to generate a measurement, but ultimately it comes down to a judgment call. That tint is too dark; that truck is too squatty. Here’s your court date.
Now, I still believe that squatting your truck is insanely stupid. It looks so dumb, brah. You didn't just land a sweet jump in the Mint 400 and nobody thinks you did. But is it really dangerous? Do we have reams of data proving that squatted trucks are a menace to society, or is this just a get-off-my-lawn reactionary beatdown on questionable automotive aesthetics? Just because a Change.org petition got more than 70,000 signatures doesn't mean that a particular modification should be illegal. Maybe that seems like a lot of people, but we're talking about a platform where almost 3000 people signed a petition to change the name of fire ants to "spicy boys."
Truck squatting will run its course all on its own, without legal intervention. It's a dumb fad, and dumb fads always pass. Maybe the next thing will be raking your truck—lower the front, jack up the back!—or replacing the bed with an eight-person hot tub. Either way, I’m sorry that I wielded my vast influence in such a way that the squatters and poopers might well be an endangered species.
Furry steering wheel covers, though: those should be illegal and punishable by the maximum allowable extent of the law. Somebody start a petition.
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