Is it an auto tax? Texas senator wants to end car inspections

BROWNSVILLE — A Texas state senator has filed a bill that could possibly end yearly vehicle inspections.

Officially known as Senate Bill 1588, Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, filed the bill earlier this month that would repeal the requirement for all passenger vehicles to receive a state-certified inspection.

According to a press release sent by his office, Huffines stated, “With significant technological advances in vehicle design and technology, this 66-year-old program is a relic of the past.

“State government is wasting Texans’ time and money on the annual chore of passenger inspections when 34 other states, including populous states like California, don’t require it of their drivers.

“Once you realize that these inspections aren’t about safety, it’s clear that they’re simply a tax on Texans’ time and money.”

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said Texas has implemented a mandatory motor vehicle inspection program since 1950 and only 16 states have a required vehicle safety inspection.

Lucio said he wants to get feedback from the public on the proposed bill before he decides whether to vote for or against it.

“I certainly want to listen carefully and weigh out the pros and cons of it before I make a decision of whether I should support it or not,” Lucio said.

Lucio also said the Senate most likely will pass the bill.

“(SB 1588) has got some pretty good authors on it. It appears it has some support on the Senate side. It appears that it’s moving in the right direction in terms of the support that is needed for it to pass,” Lucio said.

“Like I said, I could still vote for the bill or against depending on what comes out in the debate. But I certainly want to have safe streets and have cars that are well-equipped so that no one gets hurt, including the owner of the vehicle. At the same time, I’m always for giving relief of some kind when it comes to what we pay for services.”

Jorge Vasquez, supervisor and former inspector for Valley Tire Shop and Road Service, said when inspecting a vehicle, inspectors check the interior for mirrors, seatbelts, brakes and tires. For the exterior, they check the wheel assembly, windshield wipers and horn, and under the hood they check for the power steering line, brake line and emissions.

Vasquez said vehicle safety inspections for passenger cars for the entire state costs $7.

“Let’s say you bring in your car, and your bumper hit a pole and it cracked your headlight,” Vasquez said. “Your headlight is still working, but if there’s any kind of light escaping from (the crack) it will not pass. Reason being that moisture might get inside (or) water, and the time you might need it for either the morning or fog, even at night, and it has too much density inside or moisture, it might just pop your headlight.”

Vasquez said SB 1588 can be a good and a bad thing.

“It’s good in a way (because) it’s a lot easier and less hassle for people to grab their (license) plates, but yet bad in a way because there’s at least, I want to say, 70 percent (of people) that don’t know anything about automobiles,” Vasquez said. “That’s the only reason why we do (the inspections), to certify that they’re safe to drive on the road.”

There are some Rio Grande Valley residents who feel this is not a good idea.

UTRGV Communication Professor William F. Strong thinks repealing the state inspection would result in many unsafe cars on the road.

“I think most people would be happy to get rid of the yearly hassle and save some money,” Strong said. “If you own three or four cars, you will suddenly have some free time and more money in your pocket. But I think it’s short-sighted. I’ve been in countries where anything that could move was allowed on the road, and the traffic deaths were, by percentage, much higher than here.”