AMA and Cali DMV

Press Release from the AMA:

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association is asking the California Department of Motor Vehicles to postpone a new directive that no longer allows motorcyclists to convert off-highway motorcycles to on-highway or dual-sport use.

In a memorandum dated July 23, Candy Wohlford, deputy director of the DMV Communications Program Division, informed all DMV field offices that they may no longer convert any off-road motorcycles made since 1978 for use on public roads. This represents a major change in policy for the agency, since the DMV's own registration manual, and a California Highway Patrol bulletin, spell out procedures for legally making such conversions.

The memo notes that this change in policy stems from California Air Resources Board emissions regulations for on-highway motorcycles that went into effect with 1978 year models. DMV officials contend that because off-highway motorcycles don't have an emission label indicating they are certified by the manufacturer to meet those emissions regulations, they can't be converted for on-highway or dual registration.

Some riders convert their off-road motorcycles to on-road or dual-sport use so they can use public roads to connect trails.

"As we read this memo, we're encouraged that nothing in it indicates that motorcycles converted prior to July 23 of this year will be illegal," said Sean Maher, AMA director of state affairs. "We will work closely with DMV officials to try to ensure that those motorcycles remain legal."

The AMA is seeking a postponement in implementation of the directive because state officials gave motorcyclists no warning of this policy shift. The Association is asking for time to get the word out to the motorcycling community, and to deal with issues raised by this change of direction.

Besides asking for that postponement, the AMA is also considering legislative remedies that would ensure the continued availability of dual-sport conversion registrations in California and in other states.

"We have seen other states impose prohibitions on allowing the conversion of off-highway motorcycles for dual-sport use," Maher said, "and we suspect still more are considering such measures. This could become a trend with major implications not only for trail riders, but for off-road racers as well."

California riders can express their concerns to the California Department of Motor Vehicles by going to the StateWatch section of the Rapid Response Center at the AMA's website,
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George Obradovich
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