CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Do you know when your car is due for inspection? If you miss it by four months or more you could be in for a minimum $250 fine.
When a medical problem could not get a Chapel Hill woman a reprieve from the penalty, she called Five On Your Side's Monica Laliberte for help.
Car inspections are a yearly ritual, but Ann Delaney did not get hers done in August 2002 because she was ill with a chronic medical condition.
For nearly a year, Delaney she was in and out of the hospital on pain medication and unable to drive.
"It was just a daily high level of pain," she said. "I wouldn't have wanted to get into a car. It would have been the same as drinking something and getting in a car."
When Delaney went to renew her registration in August, she realized she missed an inspection. She also learned that because the inspection was more than four months overdue, she had to pay a penalty and late fees totaling $290.
Delaney explained her situation and was told she could show her medical documentation at a hearing.
"I thought, you know, this is, you know, clearly a case where I couldn't have gotten the car there to get inspected. So I was pretty much thinking that I was going get my money back," she said.
So Delaney got her car inspected, paid the $290 and scheduled a hearing for January. The hearing officer would not look at her documentation, saying he could not accept her explanation.
"I said, 'Well, that doesn't make sense. Tell me how I was supposed to get the car to the mechanic?' He said, 'I don't know,'" Delaney said.
Delaney called Five On Your Side.
"We believe that that is something the hearing officer should have looked at," said Gordon Zeigler, who oversees the emissions program for the
state Division of Motor Vehicles
Zeigler says the agency does consider medical conditions.
Five On Your Side forwarded Delaney's paperwork and the DMV refunded the penalty.
"She was totally in a situation where she could not get out to get the vehicle inspected," Zeigler said. "We felt like that was something we could give consideration to and we did."
Zeigler says he is not sure why the officer did not look at Delaney's information, but he is making sure it is clear to his officers what reasons they accept.
Other legitimate reasons accepted by the DMV include military deployment, registration in another state and a vehicle that does not work.