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Snow tires are declared exempt from speed rating clause in Maine vehicle inspection law

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Dedicated snow tires have been granted exemption from the speed rating requirement of Maine´s controversial vehicle inspection guidelines, according to a memo from the Maine State Police Department that was issued yesterday.

Dick Cole, executive director of the New England Tire & Service Association (NETSA), regards the decision as "progress."

The memo reads: "As you all know, there is a law that went into effect in September 2003 that relates to speed and load rating of all tires. The law states, ´A vehicle may be equipped only with tires that meet or exceed the load and speed rating of the original equipment tires.´ It has come to the inspection unit´s attention that this law cannot be met when it relates to true/dedicated snow tires. Effective immediately, all true/dedicated snow tires are exempt from the speed rating requirement set forth in the previously listed law enacted in September 2003. This exemption does not pertain to summer or all-season tires."

Per state guidelines, "the load rating of all tires must continue to meet or exceed the OE tires. This exemption does not affect the speed or load rating of summer or all season tires."

Maine´s revised vehicle inspection guidelines are causing problems for some tire dealers in the state.

Maine requires that all vehicles pass a multi-point safety inspection each year. The law is enforced by the state´s police.

Representatives from the Maine State Police Department are scheduled to meet with the State of Maine´s Inspection Advisory Committee, of which NETSA´s Cole is a member, on Oct. 30.

If the parties don´t come to a suitable compromise, Cole says NETSA will try to enlist legislative help.

"It´s not only a dealer issue," he says. "It´s a consumer issue."

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