Effective Date - Motor Vehicle Identification
The provisions of 18 U.S.C §§ 511, 512, and 2321 were
into law on October 25, 1984, and became effective as of that date. The
mandatory passenger car component identification (parts marking) standard
effective on April 25, 1986 and covered 81 passenger car lines starting with
model year 1987. The number of lines subject to the parts marking standard
varied in each subsequent model year. In the future, parts marking may be
extended to all passenger motor vehicle lines, depending on whether an
of the Department of Transportation's parts marking program by the Attorney
General determines whether or not parts marking substantially inhibits chop
operations and vehicle thefts. See 49 U.S.C. § 33103.|
While component parts have had somewhat limited protection under 18
U.S.C. §§ 511, 512, and 2321, that is not the case with the actual
vehicle identification number (VIN). While all "road" motor vehicles are
required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 115 (49 C.F.R.
511.115 and 565.1 - 561.5) to have a VIN, this requirement was phased in
several years. Starting on January 1, 1969, all passenger cars manufactured
the United States or manufactured overseas on or after January 1, 1969, and
subsequently imported into the United States were required to have a VIN.
See 33 Fed. Reg. 10207, July 17, 1968. As a practical rule of thumb,
means that every passenger car from model year 1970 to date has been
the Department of Transportation (DOT) to have a VIN. Until January 1,
VIN's characteristics (i.e., its length, the types and kinds of information
encoded within particular positions or sections of the VIN, etc.) for
cars could be determined by each manufacturer.
Effective September 1, 1980, the VIN requirement was expanded to
multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, trailers, and motorcycles
manufactured in the United States on or after September 1, 1980, and such
vehicles manufactured overseas after September 1, 1980, and subsequently
into the United States. Hence, for non-passenger motor vehicles a VIN has
federally required only for model years 1981 to date. See 43 Fed.
36448, August 17, 1978. The September 1, 1980 date was extended, however,
January 1, 1981, for two manufacturers (Fruehauf Corporation and Rolls-Royce
Motors International), see 45 Fed. Reg. 12255, February 25, 1980.
1, 1981, reflects the date used by those two manufacturers to start their
model years. The September 1, 1980 date was the changeover date in the 1981
model year for most other manufacturers. VINs are also now required to
a 17 character format. See 49 C.F.R. §§ 511.115 and
The 17 character VIN format was applicable to passenger cars as of January
1980 and as to other vehicles as of September 1, 1980 (except for those
manufactured by Fruehauf Corporation and Rolls-Royce Motors International in
which case the effective date was January 1, 1981). See 43 Fed. Reg.
36448, August 17, 1978; 45 Fed. Reg. 12255, February 25, 1980.
Accordingly, after October 25, 1984, the falsification or removal
any VIN required by the DOT on a motor vehicle is a federal crime under 18
§ 511. Motor vehicles which have had their DOT required VINs falsified
removed after October 24, 1984, are subject to seizure and forfeiture under
U.S.C. § 512. Persons trafficking in motor vehicles with DOT required
that have been falsified or removed after October 24, 1984, are subject to
prosecution under 18 U.S.C. § 2321. See 130 Cong.Rec. S13584
ed. October 4, 1984). See also H.R.Rep. No. 1456 on H.R. 4178, 96th
Congress, 2d Sess. 25-26 (1980); 125 Cong.Rec. 12244 (1979).
[cited in Criminal Resource Manual 1366; USAM 9-61.700]