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New system should alleviate long lines and waits

Recently there have been various articles relating to the newest procedure adopted by the Department of Motor Vehicles regarding the vehicle inspection process. Several articles have contained misinformation, which has led to confusion regarding the intent of the new procedure, how it will be implemented and the expected results.

State law requires the inspection of motor vehicles every 12 months. Currently, most inspections conducted outside the New York metropolitan area expire at the end of the month. As a result, in many upstate communities, there are long lines and wait times at inspection stations at the end of the month. The new procedure, which will affect motorists beginning in 2007, will seek to alleviate this problem by spreading the expiration dates throughout the month.

Beginning in 2006, all vehicles will be issued an inspection sticker that has three boxes indicating the time period when the inspection will expire in 2007. These boxes are marked 1-10, 11-20 and 21-31. A motorist who has an inspection completed on a date within one of those time frames will have his or her inspection due at the end of the period marked.

Therefore, vehicle inspections completed between the 1st and 10th of the month this year will expire at midnight on the 10th next year, those completed between the 11th and 20th of the month will expire at midnight on the 20th and inspections completed between the 21st and the end of the month will expire at midnight on the last day of the month.

Motorists will need to have their vehicles inspected before the time frame has expired. Although a 10-day period is indicated on the sticker, motorists are not required to have the inspection done during that time frame and can have the inspection completed at any time prior to the designated expiration period. All vehicle inspections will still be valid for one full year, regardless of when the inspection occurred during the previous year.

Motorists in the New York metropolitan area have had a similar program since 1990. As a result, over time, the inspections in the metropolitan area were spread throughout the month, which reduced wait times and significantly increased customer convenience. This system's success has reinforced among upstate inspection stations and the DMV the benefit of shifting to a similar system.

Since inspections done in 2005 expire at the end of the month, we expect most motorists will wait until the end of the month in 2006 to get their new inspection. However, over time, as vehicles are bought and sold, inspections will be spread throughout the month.

Over the years, the DMV has aggressively worked to modify procedures to improve customer service. Many motorists remember the days when licenses and vehicle registrations all expired on one specific date, forcing people to wait in long lines for many hours to complete a simple transaction. It has been through implementation of various new procedures that the DMV has been able to dramatically improve customer service.

Renato Donato Jr. is executive deputy commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

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