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Electronic inspections to take stickers off cars

A new electronic database will let you get that inspection sticker off your windshield and synchronize inspections and registration renewals. But some drivers are confused about when they need to get those two things done during the transition period.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina will launch an electronic system to keep track of vehicle inspections Saturday, letting drivers get rid of that sticker on the windshield.

Some drivers worry, however, that losing those faithful reminders will make them miss their inspection dates.

The new method is also designed to synchronize when car owners must get their vehicles inspected and when they renew their vehicle registrations. In fact, the law, which takes effect Saturday, blocks people from registering their vehicles until they are inspected.

The law requires mechanics to enter vehicle inspection information directly into a state database. That will allow the state to stop printing windshield stickers; instead, drivers will be notified of their inspection and registration deadlines by mail.

The overall goal is to get more people to follow the laws about inspections and registration while improving air quality and the state highway system, state Division of Motor Vehicles officials said.

When a car-owner renews a registration, DMV workers will be able to access the electronic database to find out if the inspection has been done. Law enforcement officers will have that same capability through the computers in their cruisers.

But what if no one fully understands the law?

That was the case at Ed's Tires & Auto Service in Fayetteville. Drivers and mechanics expressed confusion over what the law would entail for drivers getting inspections and renewing registrations in the next year.

"We're a little confused about it," employee Roy Player said.

The DMV's Web site promises, "Over the synchronization period, no vehicle will have to be inspected more than once in a 12-month period."
  • What if your inspection is due in the remainder of 2008, but your registration doesn't expire until sometime in 2009? Go ahead and get the vehicle inspected this year. You will not be required to have another inspection when your registration is renewed.
  • What if your registration is due for renewal first? In that case, you can skip getting your inspection until you renew your tags the following year.

DMV officials said the department will be working with drivers to make sure they understand how to follow the new law and will not impose fines immediately for missed deadlines. They recommended keeping the paper print-out from auto shops showing that your car was inspected.

Some at Ed's Tires, though, expressed frustration at having the handy stickers removed from vehicles.

"I say, it's still easier to have the sticker on there, because that way, everyone knows when it has to be done," mechanic Josh Calb said.

However, other mechanics expressed confidence that the state government would find a way to make the new system work.

"The DMV has got it all worked out. Don't know quite how they've got it worked out, but they've got it worked out," Player said.



Christi Lowe, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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