254: Curt Rymkus, Wisconsin State Patrol is targeting your cool ride.

Show Date: 04/27/2019

(Season 13 EP 17)

Curt has been an advocate for car and motorcycle enthusiast for over 40 years. In the early 70’s – he, along with others, orchestrated discussions with the Wisconsin DMV and State Patrol that began many of the policies of today. In the mid 90’s they were upgraded.

At issue is the interpretation of what these policies mean. On the surface, this could appear as nothing more than random ticket violations. However, Curt has seen this before. Where these few tickets can escalate into more violations.

Read this article by the Wisconsin Specialty Vehicle Counsel.

In fall 2018 a Wisconsin State Patrol officer was very active in issuing vehicle equipment violation citations or 10 day fix it tickets to owners of modified vehicles in southwestern Wisconsin around the Dodgeville, Wis. area. 30’s era hot rods without fenders or hoods were ticketed as well as 70’s era vehicles with factory equipped exhaust systems. Other incidents in 2018 indicate WSP may be focusing on older vehicles and modified vehicles. 

One of the Dodgeville hot rodders entered a  “not guilty” plea to the court and will be appearing in the Dodgeville Wis. court, soon. Read on for more about the why and when.

For many years Wisconsin DOT/DMV has issued titles and registration plates to 20’s and 30’s era cars and light trucks that were not equipped with fenders and hoods. Certain Wisconsin State Statutes and Administrative Code were created in the 1990’s to enable WISDOT to recognize the auto enthusiasts ability to improve, change and custom create motor vehicles, safely. Also WISDOT recognized the number of these types of vehicles on Wisconsin roads and highways was minimal and highway safety was not threatened.

Numerous Wisconsin auto enthusiast groups have met with WISDMV since 1971. These meetings were a co-operative effort between WISDMV and the auto enthusiasts groups to maintain ongoing open communication about the titling and registration of older vehicles and modified vehicles. As issues developed, WISDMV resolved them.

Early 2016, meetings between Wisconsin State Patrol and Wisconsin auto enthusiasts had been held to clear up any misinterpretations of how the 1990’s laws were being interpreted and applied by WSP. These meetings revealed WSP’s misinterpretation of the 90’s laws was causing issues for the auto enthusiast community regarding titling, registration and vehicle equipment inspections. As the 2016 meetings progressed the WSP representative recognized the consequences of the misinterpretations. He stated that correcting the misinterpretations would require changes to be made to what was being taught at the State Patrol Academy.

Wisconsin State Patrol personnel changes in 2016 and 2017 did not bring about any changes at the State Patrol Academy and they continued to incorrectly interpret the 1990’s State Statutes and Administrative Code regarding modified vehicles. The 1990’s laws were drafted and enacted into law with full co-operation and agreement from the Wisconsin Division of State Patrol. The laws have not changed since the 1990’s. WSP’s interpretation has changed and their new interpretation is completely opposite to the intent and spirit of the 1990’s laws. 

A March, 2018 meeting was held in Madison, Wi. to discuss how to correct the misinterpretations. Attending the meeting were representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles/Vehicle Services, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin Specialty Vehicle Council and National Street Rod Association. Wisconsin State Patrol stated new legislation was required to change some of the 1990’s laws to conform to their new interpretations. Our community stated that the 1990’s laws had served WISDMV and the Wisconsin auto enthusiast  community properly for 29 years and changing the law to comply to WSP’s interpretation was unnecessary. We stated the solution was for WSP to return to the correct interpretations of the 90’s laws and changing the laws today does not guarantee that WSP will not change their interpretation of the new law in 1 year, 5 years or ? A WSP Vehicle Inspector present at the meeting stated future applicants for “replica” title status will find it difficult to qualify for a “replica” title after a WSP vehicle equipment inspection. 

Some time after the meeting the WSP Inspector’s Superior was contacted with a request to meet and discuss an alternative resolution to the misinterpretation issue, his abrupt reply was “we have nothing to discuss”.

During 2018 problems caused by WSP activity concerning modified vehicles surfaced. Again, WSP’s newly formed interpretations  of law were causing problems for the auto enthusiast community.
Then came the Wisconsin State Patrol versus the Dodgeville, Wisconsin auto enthusiasts community. Discussions were held with the Dodgeville group about the WSP citations for modified vehicle equipment violations. Our community felt contacting the Wisconsin State Patrol Head Vehicle Inspector for clarification as to the basis for the citations would be appropriate. After much communication with the Inspector, his rescheduling of meetings, delayed return calls, no return call and the final “I am very busy doing inspections”, it was apparent the meeting wasn’t to happen.

As stated at the beginning of this article, in fall 2018, a Dodgeville, Wis hot rodder was cited for operating his 1932 Ford with inadequate exhaust and given a 10 day fix it ticket to install fenders and a hood. He reviewed the State Statutes and Code and believes the citations are another WSP incorrect interpretation of Wisconsin law. He has challenged the issuance of the citations and informed the court of his “not guilty” plea.

He will appear in the Dodgeville court on May 2, 9am. This is a “Status” hearing. It is a meeting to decide the next course of action – if necessary. The public is welcome to observe, but will not be allow to participate.

Other hot rodders from the area plan to attend. Any other interested parties are welcome to attend.
WHRR will post a follow up article after May 2.
The Wisconsin Specialty Vehicle Council can be contacted by email at wisvec2018@gmail.com

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So let’s ask owners of modified cars – “Do you think you have anything to be worried about?”

So let’s ask car builders that have client who wants to modify a car – “Do you think this will impact your industry?”

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