Exemption from emissions tests for newer cars and trucks starts April 1


RALEIGH — Newer cars and light-duty trucks will no longer need emissions tests under a state law that takes effect on April 1.

Under the law, motor vehicles will no longer require emissions tests during their first three model years if they have fewer than 70,000 miles on their odometers. Cars and trucks already are exempted from tests during their first model year. The exemption saves car owners $16.40 per vehicle each year in counties where tests are required.

The General Assembly passed legislation calling for the changes in the emissions testing program during its 2012 session (Session Law 2012-199), but various state and federal actions had to take place before the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, could carry out the changes.

Those actions included: the adoption of rule changes by the state Environmental Management Commission, demonstrations by the state Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, that the changes would not harm air quality, modifications to DMV’s vehicle inspection and enforcement system, and approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We look forward to our continued partnership and teamwork with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and State Inspection stations as we roll out this exemption,” DMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas said. “This new initiative is another step in our efforts to improve customer service and convenience for North Carolina motorists.”

DAQ and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources worked closely with DMV to ensure that the changes would not degrade air quality in North Carolina.

“Our most recent research showed that North Carolina could exempt newer vehicles from emissions tests without making our air unhealthy to breathe,” DAQ Director Sheila Holman said. “Newer cars and trucks seldom fail the emissions tests during their first three model years.”

A vehicle’s age is determined by its model year, which is prominently displayed on the owner’s valid registration and the automobile emissions control label located in the engine compartment. All vehicles are still subject to the annual safety inspection.

A calculator for determining whether vehicles qualify for the exemption can be found at: http://www.ncair.org/motor/inspect/exemption.shtml . Questions and answers about the changes to the emissions testing program can be found at: http://www.ncair.org/motor/inspect/exemption_faq.shtml .

Emissions tests are required in 48 of the state’s 100 counties. In addition to a $13.60 annual fee for the safety inspection, the emissions test costs car owners an additional $16.40 per year. Savings to car owners from the emissions test exemption will total about $14 million per year.More information on air quality issues can be found at the DAQ website, www.ncair.org/ . For more information about the vehicle inspection program or to determine which inspection is required for your vehicle, please visit the DMV website at http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/registration/inspection/

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