5 On Your Side

Inspection sticker rules cause confusion

Posted October 13, 2009 5:20 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2009 9:21 p.m. EDT

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Adding to the confusion, an inspection date calculator on the DMV’s Web site contains data that is no longer valid.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