Texas inspection stickers to become a two-step, one sticker process

Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor
Skye Duncan | Lariat Photo Editor

Associated Press

AUSTIN — Beginning March 1, Texas drivers will only have to display a single registration sticker in the bottom driver’s side corner of their windshields.

Vehicles will still have to pass the same safety and emissions standards at licensed inspection stations as they do today, but those results will now be kept electronically by the state.

Dallas Senator Royce West, who carried the Senate bill which created the new law, said this program is good for the state, for the environment and for drivers.

“[This law] will help to reduce fraud, promote cleaner air and increase safety and convenience for Texas vehicle owners,” he said at a press conference Tuesday.

Cars will need to pass inspection before drivers can renew vehicle registration. For the first year, if registration expires before inspection, that car won’t have to be inspected until it needs to be renewed again in 2016.

If the inspection expires before the registration, the driver will have to have the car inspected before renewing its registration. After this year, the two expiration dates will be in sync, and a car only has to have the inspection done before registration is renewed.

“I don’t know that the impact will be that significant for us,” said John Bridges, the Ellis County Tax Assessor. “What it amounts to is that the driver will end up with one sticker that will serve as both its inspection and registration. The only difference is that now they will pay all of the money to us instead of paying money to the inspection station and to us for registration. We are an agent for the state of Texas, as far as what I think about it, I don’t think that it’s going to cause any undo hardship on us. It’s one more piece of paper the customer will have to bring to show that not only it’s inspected, but it’s insured. Since most of the money will be transferred electronically, it will create one more channel, if you will, where that money goes out of our office to the state.”

Inspection stations will send inspection results to the state, which will verify the current inspection status of a vehicle when the owner applies for registration renewal. The costs of registration and inspection will not change; a person will only be responsible for the $7 plus emissions testing cost when they have their car inspected. The $7.50 the state charges for inspections will be added to the registration renewal fee.

“I think the most important thing is that now they must complete their inspection before you can get your registration, and I think that’s the most complicated piece that people don’t quite understand,” said Jimmy Poarch, the owner of the Sticker Place in Waxahachie. “Some really good news on the front side of it is the actual cost of the inspection will be going down. The bad news is the cost of registration will be increasing when you go to get it at the county.”

Department of Motor Vehicles Director Whitney Brewster outlined a number of sources that drivers can use to navigate the new law. A website, www.twostepsonesticker.com, has been set up that will allow drivers to calculate when they need to have an inspection by entering the expiration date of their two stickers. It also contains information on registration and inspection requirements, procedures and costs. County tax assessor collector offices have also been given materials to educate citizens. DPS Deputy Director Ren Earl Bowie said that drivers will have until March 1, 2016 to get acquainted with the inspection side of the law, but they can still be ticketed for out of date registration.

“It’s too soon to tell, but I think overall it’s going to be more efficient,” Poarch said. “There’s two goals by the state, one of which is to get some of the vehicles not inspected off the road or get them inspected, which would be required before you can get the registration.”

The other goal for the state, he said, is addressing the “tremendous amount of black market” inspection sticker dealers out there.

“It will get the physical sticker out of the hands of criminally minded inspectors,” he said. “I think that’s their ultimate goal.”

Poarch said because of the new law, he’s seen a decrease in business, of which he attributes to those who might think they no longer have to get an inspection. He said people need to know that getting that inspection is essential in getting the registration, and if for whatever reason, there’s a glitch with the electronic filing system, his business will still be handing out a paper version for record.

“Now, we’ll hand you a piece of paper and it says you’ve passed your inspection, and at the same time we’ll communicate with your respective county to say you either failed or passed the inspection,” he said. “If there’s any computer glitches, you want to make sure you have that paper copy to avoid any headache.”

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, the first year of the program is a transition period to allow vehicles’ inspection and registration expiration dates to align. Here is what drivers will need to do:

March 1, 2015 – February 29, 2016: You will be able to renew your registration the same way as always as long as your vehicle has a current, passing inspection. However, if your inspection and registration stickers already expire in the same month, your vehicle will need to pass inspection prior to registration renewal. When you renew your annual registration online, by mail, or in-person at your county tax office, your inspection status will be verified electronically. Remember that a current, passing inspection is required for registration renewal.

March 1, 2016, and beyond: Your inspection and registration will expire at the end of the month indicated on your registration sticker. You will have a convenient 90-day window prior to your expiration date to complete two simple steps: pass vehicle inspection and renew your registration. Registration renewal will still be available online, by mail or in person at your county tax office.

Texans can look forward to the many benefits of a “Two Steps, One Sticker” program:

• One sticker, one date: Are you one of the millions of Texans whose inspection sticker and registration sticker expire in different months? With “Two Steps, One Sticker” you will just have one sticker with one expiration date.

• Less clutter, better view: Who wants multiple stickers in their view while behind the wheel? With “Two Steps, One Sticker” you will just have the registration sticker in the corner of your windshield.

• Safer streets, cleaner air: Because a passing vehicle inspection will be a requirement to renew your registration, more Texans will comply with the safety and emissions testing laws. So with “Two Steps, One Sticker” there will be safer and more environmentally sound cars on the road.

• Fraud prevention: With inspection stickers no longer needed under “Two Steps, One Sticker,” this change will eliminate the risk of inspection sticker fraud and theft.