December 16, 2004
CONSEQUENCES FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR FOR A MOTOR VEHICLE EMISSIONS INSPECTION TEST
By: James J. Fazzalaro, Principal Analyst
You asked what the grace period is for someone who does not have his vehicle inspected for emissions by the assigned test deadline and how the motorist is notified that his registration is suspended.
The registration sanction applicable for vehicles that do not report for emissions tests, or fail tests and are not in compliance with the law, comes in the form of registration denial not registration suspension. A vehicle owner receives a notice to report for an emissions test for a particular vehicle he owns by a certain date. The notice comes several weeks before the test date. The vehicle must report for testing by the assigned date. If a vehicle fails its test, the owner has 30 days to have it repaired and submitted for a free retest. If the vehicle owner misses the assigned test date by more than 30 days, he is subject to a $20 late fee billed to him by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A vehicle that has not been tested as scheduled cannot be reregistered until it complies—that is, registration for that particular vehicle will be denied by DMV should the owner attempt to renew its registration and the registration record indicates it has not had its scheduled inspection. If the vehicle owner attempts to renew the registration by mail, he receives a notice from DMV that the renewal has been denied for noncompliance. The vehicle's owner may still renew registrations for
other vehicles he owns unless he also fails to pay the $20 late fee to DMV. The registration denial process is similar to that followed by DMV for registration denial based on delinquent local property taxes or unpaid parking tickets.
However, a vehicle owner is also subject to police enforcement. It is an infraction to operate a vehicle that is not in compliance with emissions requirements. Police are aware of a vehicle's noncompliance status when they check the vehicle's registration through their on-line access to the DMV registration database. The first citation for operating a vehicle that has not complied with emissions requirements results in fines, charges and other fees totaling $75. A subsequent citation results in a total of $77. Every time a vehicle is stopped and found not to be in compliance is a separate violation, so it would be possible for the vehicle's owner to receive multiple infraction citations before registration denial would occur.