Emilio Verdone reached out to us as a man who had taken it upon himself to right the wrong of the states shotgun approach to Kei regulation. We've all read stories of other states basically banning everything with a Japanese vin as a "Kei vehicle" (i'm looking at you Maine) but here and RI Emilio has set a great precedent for other larger Japanese vehicle owners. Here's his story in his own words:
“In and out” is not usually a term associated with the DMV, so you can imagine my shock in early May when registering my imported vehicle was a painless process. A painless process, that is, until August when a letter from the DMV Enforcement Office arrives in the mail. The letter states that one of my vehicle registrations will be investigated. I call the Enforcement Office to inquire about which vehicle and the problem, although I already know what vehicle it is going to be. As suspected, the man on the other end tells me my 1990 Mitsubishi Delica is classified as a Kei Class vehicle and as such is illegal to be registered in RI. I asked when that had become law. No straight answer was given. “It’s always been like that,” he says. I followed up by asking if he knows the definition of a Kei vehicle. Again no straight answer. I inform him that a Kei vehicle is one having a max engine size of 660cc, a max length of 3.4m, and a max width of 1.5m, among a few other things. I then tell him that the vehicle that the Enforcement Office has deemed Kei class is a 5,500 lb, full size, 3 row minivan. I wish I could have seen the look on his face, but the “ummmmm” said it all. He asks to call me back in a few minutes. When he does, he asks if I would be willing to go to a DMV inspection appointment at their garage to see the vehicle against the AAMVA’s definition, to which I agree.
Fast forward a few days, I arrive at the DMV Inspection garage in Providence. I arrived fully ready to not accept anything but a pass, even donning my “Come and Take It” Delica shirt I had gotten from TheDrive. A few guys from the office come out to look at the van. They are asking me questions about engine size and where I had gotten the van from as they took measurements. Clearly every measurement was above the maximum defined regulations for a Kei vehicle. At the end of the appointment, they had no choice but to let me go and keep my registration. A Delica is not a Kei vehicle in any respect.
It wasn’t until I had gotten home that day that I did some more digging on the subject and found there is no state law in RI outlawing registration of Kei vehicles. The AAMVA “Best Practices” document that was sent to me by the Enforcement Office to reference definitions even states in Appendix D that no state law exists in RI. I have now contacted my state senator about the illegal practice by the DMV to outlaw these vehicles. Even though I won my battle, there is still a war to be fought to save the Kei vehicle, and to stop the state from overstepping and enforcing non-existent laws. To other JDM vehicle owners in the state: if you too get a letter saying your registration will be investigated, tell them no and make them work for it. You and I haven’t broken any laws, don’t let the state step on you.
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