Texas Officials Worry New Inspection and Registration System Will Lead to Mass Confusion

group of carA single-sticker automotive inspection and registration system has gone into effect for Texas effective March 1, and officials are concerned that significant confusion will occur as the new policy is implemented.

“I personally believe it’s going to be chaos for a little while,” said Rep. Joe Pickett, House Transportation Committee chairman, at a Capitol hearing at the end of February.

The state Legislature approved the new one-sticker system in 2013, largely because it’s suspected that the current two-sticker procedure — with one sticker issued for inspection, and one for registration — allows for a large number of vehicles to be registered without proper safety inspections.

In Texas, the number of registered vehicles is 18 – 20% above the number of vehicle inspections carried out, leading safety watchdogs and officials to suspect that counterfeit inspection stickers account for at least part of that disparity. This both deprives the state and inspectors of revenue and creates a safety hazard; one recent survey showed that about 77% of vehicles inspected were in need of some type of maintenance or repair.

Having just one sticker that indicates both registration and inspection will make fraud more difficult and enforcement easier, proponents of the change say.

The Single-Sticker System

Under the new system, a safety inspection will result in a written report, rather than the issuance of a sticker. That report will then be filed to an online database that will be checked when the owner goes to register the vehicle. Inspection standards themselves will remain the same.

The total cost will also remain the same, although drivers will now make two separate payments instead of one (one when the car is inspected and one directly to the state).

After Feb. 29, 2016, all drivers will need to have their vehicles inspected no more than 90 days before they renew their registrations. But in this first year, officials say some cars will go more than a year without inspection to align with the new standards. During this transitional period, owners will be allowed to register their cars as long as they have a valid inspection sticker.

Some drivers may be confused as to what to do if their current inspection and registration stickers expire at different times. An official website, www.twostepsonesticker.com, has been set up to help mitigate these situations. On the site, car owners can input their information and receive direction on what to do and when.

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