Altering or Removing Motor Vehicle Identification
Section 511(a) of Title 18 makes it a felony knowingly to remove,
obliterate, tamper with, or alter an identification number for a road motor
vehicle or a road motor vehicle part. Section 511(b) of Title 18 creates
exceptions for certain persons who engage in lawful conduct that may result
removal or alteration of an identification number. The legislative history
abundantly clear that subsection (b) is not intended to create a loophole
operators of "chop shops." See H.R.Rep. No. 1087 on H.R. 6257, 98th
Congress, 2d Sess. 23-25 (1984).|
Section 511(c) of Title 18 contains the definitions for
number," "motor vehicle," "motor vehicle demolisher," and "motor vehicle
processor." The term "identification number" means a number or symbol that
inscribed or affixed for purposes of identification under chapter 301 and
C of subtitle VI of Title 49.
Title 49, Chapter 301 authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to
promulgate motor vehicle safety standards. Pursuant to this authority,
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 115-Vehicle Identification Number (49
§§ 571.115 and 565.1 to 565.5) requires public VIN numbers on road
vehicles (passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses,
trailers, and motorcycles). Part C of subtitle VI of Title 49 (49 U.S.C.
33101 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to
theft prevention (parts marking) standards. The parts marking regulations
set forth in 49 C.F.R. Part 541. The mandatory component identification
requirement applies to certain high theft passenger car lines starting with
year 1987. In 1995, the theft prevention (parts marking) standard was
to include certain multipurpose passenger vehicles and certain non high
lines beginning with model year 1997.
For a discussion of proving violations of 18 U.S.C. § 511, see
Manual at 1376.
[cited in USAM 9-61.700]