Urgent Enforcement Alert for Cincinnati, Ohio

Many of you have contacted the SEMA Action Network to request information regarding a recent increase in the ticketing and impoundment of vehicles with larger-sized aftermarket wheels in the Cincinnati jurisdiction.  We reached out to the Cincinnati Police Department to inquire as to the current enforcement policy.  According to the head of the department’s traffic unit, Cincinnati is enforcing a section of the Ohio law that states, “No person shall drive or move, or knowingly permit to be driven or moved, on any highway, any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person.” Vehicles that are cited under this section are being confiscated from the driver and sent to an inspection station for determination of the violation.  With regard to passenger vehicles with larger size wheels, the department claims that law enforcement is primarily concerned about three things:

  1. The vehicle does not comply with bumper height restrictions for passenger cars.
  2. The steering wheel is unable to go from right “lock” position to left “lock” position or the tires come into contact with the vehicle frame, or any of the cables – including emergency cable lines, brake lines, etc.
  3. The brakes are not up to standard in terms of brake pads, calipers, etc.  


Under the inspection criteria, the bumper limits for passenger vehicles which have been modified are 22 inches from the bottom of the bumper to the ground, for the front and back bumper.   


Steering is inspected to determine that the steering assembly operates normally; there is no excessive play in the steering wheel; the
sector shaft is secure; and there is no binding or lash in the steering assembly.


Tires must have a minimum of 1/16 inch tread depth on the road surface.  They should be free of major bumps or bulges, breaks or tread damage.

Wheels and Rims

Rims must not be badly bent or twisted. Lug bolts must be securely tightened.


Brakes are inspected to determine that there is sufficient brake pedal. Hydraulic brake system is tested with vehicle stopped. Driver should be able to maintain brake pedal height under moderate foot force (40-60 pounds) for one minute.  The service brake must hold the vehicle on any grade and under all conditions of loading, provided the surface is free of snow, ice or loose material. The emergency brake should hold the vehicle in a stopped position when less than 2/3 of the actuator stroke is used, and should stop the vehicle in the event of service brake failure. Brake fluids and brake lining materials manufactured for sale in Ohio must meet standards set by the director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

These vehicles may also be targeted for reasons that go beyond equipment standards.  The department indicated that a recent spate of illegal traffic activity has drawn law enforcement’s attention.  When asked why enforcement against passenger cars with larger wheels was now more prevalent even though the inspection criteria had not changed for several years, the department head suggested that there are more vehicles of this type on the road than ever before.

We encourage SAN members to assess their vehicles with larger-sized wheels for compliance with the above standards.   If you believe that you are being targeted by law enforcement despite compliance with these standards, we welcome being made aware of the circumstances of your citation.  

Thanks for your attention.