New Texas law requires one car sticker, but sows multiple questions
Texas drivers, get ready for a new kind of sticker shock.
Starting March 1, vehicles will no longer need both a registration sticker and a safety inspection/emissions sticker, thanks to a state law passed in 2013. Instead, owners of cars and trucks whose registration month is March or later will be issued only the registration sticker - but it’s contingent on first getting the vehicle inspected. The inspection will go into a database that officials will check before granting the new registration sticker.
+ New Texas law requires one car sticker, but sows multiple questions photo
After March 1, drivers will need just one sticker on their car: the registration sticker. But an inspection will still be required.
But the transition from two stickers to one could get complicated if your inspection date isn’t lined up with your registration date.
To avoid charging people twice within a year for an inspection, the state decided that car owners with a registration that comes due at least a month before their next inspection can forgo the inspection until their 2016 registration. But that’s only for registration renewals after March 1.
“This is new,” said Travis County Assessor-Collector Bruce Elfant, whose office has to collect the inspection and registration fees and then send most of the revenue to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and the Texas Department of Public Safety. “It’s going to be confusing.”
Aside from eliminating one piece of clutter from the lower left side of Texas windshields, the new law is mainly intended to force drivers to get their vehicle inspections in a timely way. Under the current system, vehicle owners could be months overdue on their inspection and, with the two processes unlinked, still get their car registered for a new year. No more, beginning March 1.
Some questions, and answers, about the new law:
What if my inspection is supposed to be this month or February - before the new rule goes into effect in March - and my registration is due later in the year? Do I still have to get an inspection and the extra sticker now?
Yes. But when your registration month comes up later in the year, that inspection will suffice for this first year and you won’t have to get a second one.
No, no. Just for registration months between March 2015 and February 2016. After that, everyone’s registration and inspection months will be “synced up,” to use the DMV’s terminology, and from then on everyone will have to get an inspection within 90 days before the end of their registration month.
What if my inspection month is after March 1, but before my registration month? For instance, my inspection month is March and my registration month is April, or my inspection month is June and my registration month is September.
You’ll have to do the inspection during the month on your sticker, and as above, you won’t have to do it again when your registration month comes up. It’ll be on file with the state as valid. However, unlike inspections before March 1, you will not get a sticker. Instead, at the inspection station you’ll get a “vehicle inspection report” on paper.
Officials say your inspection will hit their computer system quickly (overnight, they said), and that should suffice when you’re trying to register your vehicle later in the year. But they advise you to keep that vehicle inspection report, just in case.
What if my inspection month and registration are both after March 1, and are already synced up? For instance, both are in June?
You will have to get an inspection before renewing your registration. Again, you won’t get an inspection sticker for your windshield, just a paper report and a gold star in the state database.
After the transition year is over, starting in March 2016, this will become the process for everybody.
So if I bought a new car recently and got one of those two-year inspection stickers, will it somehow expire prematurely because of all this change, forcing me to get another inspection before that date?
No, according to DMV spokesman Adam Shaivitz. Even an inspection expiration date deep into 2016 or for the first two months of 2017 (if you buy a new car now or next month) would remain valid, allowing you to keep registering your vehicle until it expires.
Should I remove an inspection sticker that is still valid after March 1?
No. The DMV recommends leaving the sticker on there until it expires. If nothing else, it will remind you when the inspection is no longer valid.
If I do have to get an inspection sometime after March 1, will anything be different about how I go about it?
Mostly not. The certified inspection stations will be the same, and they’ll still make the same examination of your vehicle. But the fee will change. Currently in Central Texas, passenger cars pay $28.75 at an inspection station. The station owners, under state law, keep $18.50 to compensate them for conducting the inspection and send $10.25 to DPS as a fee.
After March 1, car owners will pay the inspection station only $18.50.
Great, I’m saving money!
Uh, no. That $10.25 fee for DPS will now be added to your registration bill from your county’s tax assessor-collector. So instead of a bill only for $64.25 for registering the vehicle (or more for trucks), the bill will be $74.50. The assessor-collector will then send the money to the various agencies that get pieces of the registration and inspection fees, including county government. In the end, you will pay the same total.
Once you have paid the combined fee - in Travis County that can be done online, by phone, by mail or in person at the assessor-collector’s office - you’ll get a registration sticker in the mail and, as before, put it on the inside of the windshield on the lower left side.
The Texas DMV has set up a special website for the change -http://twostepsonesticker.com - and it includes a handy box to help vehicle owners know what to do during this transition year. Users can enter their registration renewal date and inspection date, and the tool will tell them whether another inspection is needed.
Inspection and Registration — Together At Last! | Two Steps. One Sticker. Texas DMVBeginning March 1st 2015, Texas vehicle inspection and registration stickers are partnering up.TWOSTEPSONESTICKER.COM