A family member of the late B.J. Upton hugs Governor Glenn Youngkin at the signing ceremony. Photo courtesy of governor's office.

Virginia on Monday became the second Southern state to ban so-called Carolina Squat modifications on pick-up trucks and SUVs that have led to at least one traffic fatality in the commonwealth last month. During a visit at the Sheriff’s Office in Lynchburg, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a new law that makes it a misdemeanor if the suspension, frame, or chassis has been modified to cause the height of the front bumper of a vehicle to be four or more inches greater than the height of the rear bumper.

Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg. Courtesy of Mark Peake.

State Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, had filed Senate Bill 777 in early March after hearing of a fatal crash in February that left 27-year old Brayden “BJ” Upton dead when his Chevy collided with a squatted pick-up truck in Mecklenburg County. Youngkin was joined by Peake and members of Upton’s family when he put his name under the bill, which also makes the modification a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to initiate traffic stops. 

“I’m honored today to be here with BJ’s family, the public servants who acted quickly to move legislation to my desk to address the problem, and the law enforcement heroes who will enforce this new law and keep our roads and highways safer,” Youngkin said. “Nothing can bring BJ back, but with faith, time and love we can begin to heal from the pain of losing him. But the spirit of Virginia is strong, and when Virginians see a problem they come together and act.” 

Here’s an example of the so-called “Carolina Squat.” Courtesy of andrewww__420.

Squatting is a new trend that first emerged in California, after hundreds of drivers posted photos of their modified vehicles on the social media platform Instagram. Drivers raise the front of their trucks while simultaneously lowering the back, resulting in a large rake that makes it hard to see the road. The trend is particularly popular in the South, and it was already banned last year in North Carolina. Similar legislation is currently pending in the South Carolina legislature, where the Senate passed it by a 33-1 vote last month. 

Peake on Monday called his proposal a “critical step forward to prevent any further lives being lost at the hands of this dangerous truck modification,” adding that he appreciated the bipartisan support it had received. 

The bill will become law within the next day once it is formally communicated back to the House of Delegates Clerk’s Office and enrolled in the Act of Assembly. 

Governor Youngkin with family members of the late B.J. Upton at the bill signing in Lynchburg. Courtesy of the governor’s office. The sponor, state Sen. Mark Peake, R-Lynchburg, is just right of the governor.

Markus Schmidt

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at markus@cardinalnews.org.