Texas could do away with annual state inspections starting in 2025. Legislators in the Lone Star State have passed House Bill 3297 and sent it along to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk, who will decide whether to sign the bill into law or not. If he does, annual safety inspections will no longer be required to register vehicles in Texas, but drivers will still be on the hook for the same fees.
These annual inspections currently cost $7.50 in Texas, and are just one of the requirements to renew a car’s registration. The inspections ensure that vehicles comply with a handful of regulations, ostensibly, in the name of safety. During the inspection, mechanics or technicians go over a laundry list of items to make sure they’re in working order, such as tires, brakes, windshield wipers, headlights, tail lights, and turn signals. Mechanics also honk the horn to make sure it works, and they inspect the windshield to confirm that the driver’s visibility isn’t affected by cracks or breaks in the glass.
If vehicles fail to comply with safety regulations, the car won’t pass inspection and will be ineligible for registration until the issues are addressed. Since the inspections are meant to be in the name of safety, a number of law enforcement agencies and departments throughout the state are objecting to the possible repeal of the inspections. As local news KXAN reports, the Travis County Constable is urging the state governor to veto the bill, and it’s unclear whether Abbott will sign the bill into law or not. He has until June 18 to make up his mind.
Police departments and other legislators who oppose the bill claim that doing away with the inspections will decrease safety on Texas roads, as owners will no longer have to uphold certain safety standards. But the bill’s sponsors argue that removing the inspection requirements will save Texans time and money, which is not altogether true. The current inspection fee will remain, but will be renamed to the “inspection program replacement fee” per the Texas Tribune.
Annual inspections are not mandatory throughout the U.S., which may be surprising to some Texans (like me), who were weaned on the two-step process that renewing registration entails. The Tribune says that 13 states currently require inspections, which puts Texas in the baker’s dozen that still perform them. Some argue that the inspections end up affecting low-income families disproportionately, or that the system is inherently flawed since it can be exploited as well as circumvented easily.