Traffic Violation:

General Inspection Information

Motor vehicle inspections are one way in which many states strive to ensure the safety of their drivers. States typically authorize private facilities (repair shops and dealerships) to carry out inspections. Some states also run their own inspection centers. Inspections are usually quite basic, simply checking a set of minimum safety requirements. States vary with regard to the number of inspections required, the frequency of inspections, the safety standards, and the consequences of failing. A basic inspection might include:

  • Brakes
  • Locks
  • Lights and turning signals
  • Windshield wipers
  • Horn

More demanding states also inspect tires, windows, windshield, safety belts, and the car’s body. Almost all states also have some sort of emission standards that a car must meet. If a car fails inspection, typically it receives a windshield sticker noting this and the owner is given a specified period in which the cars defects must be fixed. If a failed car is not repaired or removed from the road, the owner may be subject to stiff fines and the possibility of other penalties.

Inspection is generally not a problem for new vehicles. Used cars should be inspected by a third party. Some states have laws making the sale contingent upon the passing of inspection. Others give the buyer the right to back out of a sale if a vehicle fails inspection. Because the are so many differences between state laws regarding inspections, questions should be directed to the Department of Motor Vehicles in the driver’s home state.