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Can I Drive My Jeep With the Doors Off?

According to the Chrysler Group's website, "Driving with the doors off is an innate rite of owning a Wrangler Unlimited: the open-air freedom is unrivalled." Jeeps continue to have a rugged, adventurous reputation and many drivers revel in the adaptability of a Jeep, such as driving without doors. But you may wonder whether it is legal to drive on streets and highways with the doors removed.

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50 states=50 different traffic laws

The Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC), commonly known as the Rules of the Road, is a "national guideline for uniform state traffic laws and local ordinances," according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The UVC sets standards that states use and modify as necessary to create their own set of traffic rules and regulations. Therefore, it is important to check your local laws, but the requirements in your area may be similar to those described here for the state of Washington.

Original Vehicle Manufactured Condition

In Washington, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.37.517 states that "The hood, hood latches, hood fastenings, doors, and door latches shall be maintained in a condition sufficient to ensure proper working equal to that at the time of original vehicle manufacture." If a Jeep is maintained exactly as manufactured in proper working condition, with the doors having been made to be easily detached, it seems plausible to argue that it is legal under this rule to drive without them.

Rear View Mirrors Required

RCW 46.37.400 states that "Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror mounted on the left side of the vehicle and so located to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle" and also "with an additional mirror mounted either inside the vehicle approximately in the centre or outside the vehicle on the right side and so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle." Essentially, rear view mirrors are required on the left side and either inside on the centre of the windshield, or on the right side. Detachable rear view mirrors are available for Jeeps, when the doors are off, to meet this requirement.

Washington Administrative Code: door latches

The only other traffic law in Washington related to doors covers the topic of door latches. "Every enclosed motor vehicle equipped with side doors leading directly into a compartment that contains one or more seating accommodations must be equipped with door latches which firmly and automatically secure the door when pushed closed and which allow each door to be opened both from the inside and outside," the RCW states. Clearly, this applies when doors are attached to a vehicle, but does not address the topic of a motor vehicle without doors. Your interpretation may differ from local law enforcement's opinion, but knowing the law will inform your decision.

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About the Author

Michelle Hornaday lives in Edmonds, Washington and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Washington State University and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University. She is currently a freelance writer for various websites.

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