Wisconsin Bill Curtails Specialty Vehicle Provisions

Posted February 19, 2020

By Dean Larson

On February 3, 2020, a bill was introduced to amend Wisconsin state statutes concerning specialty automobile classifications, further restricting eligibility, curtailing driving privileges and increasing fees for Collector and Hobbyist registrations. A.B. 860 was introduced by representatives Rob Swearingen (R. Rhinelander) and Michael Schraa (R. Oshkosh) for the express purpose of amending and creating the statuses relating to the registration and operation of special interest automobiles, including reconstructed, replica and street modified vehicles. In plain English, the bill seeks to increase fees and further limit the usage and definition of classic and hobbyist vehicles in Wisconsin, and here’s how.

Definitions

Traditionally, Collector and Hobbyist registrations were available in the state of Wisconsin for vehicles 20 or more years old, with unmodified vehicles qualifying for Collector registration and modified or reconstructed vehicles qualifying for Hobbyist registration. A.B. 860 would increase this age limit to 30 years if enacted. This figure applies to all unmodified collector, reconstructed, replica, street modified and homemade cars and motorcycles.

Sure, you might make argument that very few people would be interested in applying for specialty vehicle registrations for vehicles made after 2000, and that’s fair. But where this gets dicey, is when you consider the special liberties available to Hobbyist registered vehicles, primarily the ability to modify them, which would now be forbidden in vehicles under 20 years old.

A.B. 860 does spell out that vehicles currently registered with Collector and Hobbyist plates that are under 30 years old will retain their specialty registration.

Operation Period

Collector and Hobbyist vehicles are currently barred from operation in the month of January, and the state mandates that their owners possess an additional vehicle with standard registration. This makes sense, as these are supposed to be special interest vehicles, not commuters. A.B. 860 however, seeks to prolong that period by an additional 30 days, mandating that these vehicles are not operated between December 15 and February 15.

Fees

The current rate for Collector and Hobbyist registrations in Wisconsin is twice the standard registration fee, as these registrations do not expire as long as you own the vehicle. If enacted, A.B. 860 would increase this fee to three times the standard rate for the type of vehicle being registered.

Conclusion

There’s no denying that we have a problem with deteriorating infrastructure in this country, and the money has to come from somewhere to replace it. We were dealt huge fee hikes here in Wisconsin in 2019 for all vehicle registrations and renewals, and we’re assuming these increases for specialty registrations are in line with those overarching hikes. But to deal motorists a 50 percent increase in fees, combined with a reduction in provisions, now that doesn’t seem like our interests are being served.

As these are our local representatives here at RCN HQ, we’re compelled to voice our distaste for the new legislation, which is currently awaiting consideration in the Assembly Committee on Transportation. You may not live here in America’s Dairyland, but it pays to be invested in these affairs, as a similar bill could easily come about it your state.

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