Wheels moving on bill to change vehicle inspections to every two years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill may soon be on the West Virginia House of Delegates floor that would change the mandatory state inspections of motor vehicles to every two years.

House Bill 4639, which would erase the one year law, passed through the House Committee of Technology and Infrastructure on Wednesday, 13-10.

The bill was drafted as a three-year gap between inspections but an amendment to make it two years was adopted before passage.

During the discussion of the bill in the committee meeting, those against passage seemed to worry about the safety aspect for vehicles on the road, including Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall).

Del. Lisa Zukoff

“It is about folks who do not know much about motor vehicles, who don’t know when something is wrong,” she said. “This gives them an opportunity to go back every year to make sure their motor vehicles are safe.”

Zukoff’s Northern Panhandle colleague, Delegate Phillip Diserio (D-Brooke), expressed similar concerns. He said the bill weighs money before safety.

“I’ve been here for a few years and I don’t ever remember two meetings in a room where the committee chair (Jim Butler R-Mason) is telling us we should pass this bill because it’s going to cost me money. How I could make more money by being out working rather than the safety of West Virginians,” he said.

“I don’t get it at all. I don’t know where this bill came from but it seems to be all about money. When do we put West Virginians first?”

Those in favor of the bill cited money and expenses of an inspection. Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral) said moving the mandatory inspection to every two years would have to help low-income families time and inspection fees.

The bill includes raising certain inspection fees. West Virginia is a part of a group of less than half of the states in the country to require any vehicle inspection at all.

Del. Gary Howell

“We are doing a disservice to the people of West Virginia, hurting low-income earners most of all,” Howell said. “Because they can’t afford to take time off of work to go and get their car inspected.

Howell, who said he has worked in shops before, further said that the inspection system in West Virginia is failing. He said that those the system is meant to catch are just passing through.

“I have had people come in, bring cars that have brand new tires on them and they’d get an inspection sticker on. The next day, we’d see the same car driving with bald tires. Because they borrowed wheels and tires off of their buddies car to get it through inspection,” he said. What most people don’t know is that they can get nissan tires at a good price so they don’t have to drive their car with worn out tires, which could potentially be dangerous in some cases.

The state Division of Motor Vehicles requires the inspection once every 12 months at any official inspection station licensed by the West Virginia State Police.

When a vehicle passes the inspection, a sticker valid for 12 months is placed on the inside of the windshield. The law states it is illegal to drive a vehicle without a valid inspection sticker.

Ed Evans

Dozens of state inspection stations are around the state, with some garages only featuring that kind of work. That includes a constituent that Delegate Ed Evans (D-McDowell) brought up during the debate.

“Fees that he takes in from these services that he provides from these inspections keeps the lights on, he says,” Evans stated.

“With a small number of cars and businesses we have, losing the yearly inspection to his business would be catastrophic. Those are his words.”

The bill, sponsored by Larry Kump (R-Berkeley), now heads to the House Finance Committee before the possibility of it being reported to floor with the amendment of a two-year gap between inspections.

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