Michael Shipley, Lieutenant
    City of Carlsbad Police Department
    2560 Orion Way
    Carlsbad, CA 92008-7280

    Dear Lieutenant Shipley:

    This is in reply to your letter of September 9, 2002. I regret our delay in responding to your letter which, although properly addressed, did not reach our office until October 28.

    You asked for "a waiver from the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to allow for the purchase, repair, installation, and use of a feature commonly known as a 'blackout switch.'" The switch would disconnect a vehicles stop lamps and back up lamps. You understand that it is permissible for the Department itself to install the switch, but ask for a waiver on behalf of "a third party installation company."

    I enclose a letter from this Office dated April 4, 2002, to Lee M. Calkins. That letter also pertains to the Federal Signals system which you wish to use. In that letter, we pointed out that, under the make inoperative prohibition of 49 U.S.C. 30122, the switch could not be installed by a "manufacturer, dealer, distributor, or motor vehicle repair business." We did not discuss further the meaning of "motor vehicle repair business," except that the term does not include the owner of a vehicle. Under Section 30122(a), a motor vehicle repair business means "a person holding itself out to the public to repair for compensation a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment." If the "third party installation company" you mentioned is a "motor vehicle repair business" as defined by Section 30122(a), it would be prohibited from installing the blackout switch.

    If you have any questions, you may phone Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).


    Jacqueline Glassman
    Chief Counsel