5 On Your Side

Inspection sticker rules cause confusion

Posted October 13, 2009

— Getting a vehicle inspection is a yearly task. A sticker on the windshield used to be a reminder of when to do it.

But now, when you get an inspection, you don't get a sticker, and, as Chris McKittrick found out, the date on your old sticker may be wrong.

“When I took it to get inspected, I asked, ‘Why does my inspection sticker say September 2009 and my registration say August 2010?’” McKittrick said.

McKittrick said an employee told him he had to have the vehicle inspected or he could get a $200 fine.

“I actually showed them this card, and they said it didn't matter because I had the inspection sticker. That's what I needed to go by. It just didn't sound right to me, so that's why I backed out and called the DMV and asked them directly,” McKittrick said.

A representative with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles told McKittrick that his registration was correct and there was no need for an inspection until August 2010.

“I think it's very confusing,” McKittrick said. “I've asked other people and they're very confused also.”

Inspection sticker dates rarely matched the registration renewal dates. Under the new program, the inspection and the registration dates will be the same.

“Now, people are understanding, if you don't get the car inspected, you're not going to get a registration in North Carolina. And that's what the intent of the whole program was – to bring the compliance level up in the 90th percentile,” said Tracy Keel, the head of the DMV’s inspection division.

Keel said the state is in a transition period. That's why the dates on the inspection stickers aren't necessarily correct and why vehicle owners have to go by what's on the registration.

“We wanted to make sure…that we didn't make them get their car inspected this month and then turn around and their registration was due next month, and they had to go get it inspected again,” Keel said.

Adding to the confusion, an inspection date calculator on the DMV’s Web site contains data that is no longer valid.

Drivers are encouraged to go by the inspection date on their registration.

The DMV said an added benefit of the new system is that the agency can track the specific violations that cause vehicles to fail inspections.

For more information, call the DMV Inspection Information Center at 1-877-421-0020.


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  • logitech Oct 15, 2009

    Its just another way for the state to make money from us tax payers. Your late on getting your tag renewed then your automatically fined for expired inspection.I think the irony is funny actually. you can't get an inspection till your registration is renewed. But you cant get your registration till you pass state inspection.

  • Road-wearier Oct 15, 2009

    Inspection = revenue for the state. It's that simple. If it was truly about safety the state would not require safety inspections until a car has x number of miles on it or is x years old. Just like stop light cameras it's not about safety. It's a way to raise revenue without 'raising taxes'...it's increasing taxes the coward's way.

  • friendlyman Oct 14, 2009

    Here is the story about how the state inspections are no longer effective and should be discontinued:


  • jreesnc Oct 14, 2009

    My inspection on my car expired in November. My registration expired in August. When I went in to the DMV in August to renew my registration, I was told I couldn’t until I had my car re-inspected. I told them my inspection was good for 3 more months. Naturally, that did not matter. So I had to inspect my car TWICE in 9 months.

    An extra charge for double inspection, plus a wasted trip to the DMV. I had tried to do it on-line, but the useless web site simply said I had to do it in person, it DID NOT tell me the reason I was unable to renew on-line.

  • FairPlay Oct 14, 2009

    Most states have dropped inspections but if we have to have them I am shocked that the poll showed more people want the sticker. It was so SIMPLE. You cannot renew your plate without the inspection. When your renewal comes THAT is your reminder. How hard is that? Lets start using our heads instead of depending on other things to remind us.

  • mproctor2 Oct 14, 2009

    another tax for the working class.........

  • lexrid Oct 14, 2009

    The inspection process is a joke, let's inspect brand new cars just to get a fee from the owner and also ignore the criteria so that junky beater cars still somehow pass. Just another way to collect a fee. Paying property tax on vehicles isn't enough?

  • mfalesana Oct 14, 2009

    I agree inspection is just another tax on us. Many states do not have inspection as it is not needed. Maybe NC should do the same.

  • Mr. Iowa Oct 14, 2009

    Do away with inspections in the first place. Once the emissions testing went away it became a glorified "does your headlight work" and any semblence of the money wasted actually helping anything went away. It's just a tax now.

  • cledbetter Oct 14, 2009

    Really? You "normal" people that also managed to keep your plate renewed every year just fine?