June 1, 2023- Many Texas drivers will no longer be required to have their cars pass an annual safety exam after state lawmakers removed the rule from Texas code.
Texas is one of 13 states that mandate annual inspections for cars. That will change in about 18 months now that the Texas Legislature has given final approval to House Bill 3297.
Supporters of the bill called the safety inspections time consuming and inconvenient. Opponents of the bill say it could set Texas drivers, and future Texans, on a dangerous path.
What did the Legislature change?
The Legislature repealed provisions in state law that mandate annual vehicle inspections. However, there will still be a fee of $7.50 that will remain intact under a new name: the inspection program replacement fee.
The 17 counties that require emissions inspections will still mandate annual tests regardless of the Bill becoming law. These counties are as follows: Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, El Paso, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Johnson, Kaufman, Montgomery, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant, Travis and Williamson.
Who is affected?
All Texas drivers outside of the exempted counties stand to be affected by the legislation. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, there are 22 million registered cars in the state. Annual inspections are used to determine if certain features of a car, such as the tires, seat belts or brakes, are safe to drive with.
A study mandated by the Texas Legislature in 2017 shows that cars with defects, such as bald tires or bad brakes, were three years older than the average registered vehicle, which is nine years old.
Almost a quarter of the people surveyed in the study were asked by a mechanic to fix slick or defective tires during an inspection, potentially preventing more accidents. Another report found that defective cars in Texas were more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash that resulted in a fatality.
Who influenced the bill’s outcome?
Republican Rep. Cody Harris of Palestine and Sens. Mayes Middleton of Galveston and Bob Hall of Edgewood sponsored the Bill to do away with annual vehicle inspections.
Other groups and businesses — such as former Texas Sen. Don Huffines’ Liberty Foundation, Continental Automotive Group, Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texas Conservative Coalition and Tesla — were all in favor of the Bill. Huffines, who owns a car dealership empire in North Texas, has been a vocal supporter of the Bill.
How much will it cost texans?
Drivers will still be required to pay the annual $7.50 when they register their vehicles. The money will go toward the Texas mobility fund, general revenue fund and the clean air account.
For drivers with new cars — either the current model or preceding model year that has not been previously registered in Texas or another state — there will instead be an initial fee of $16.75 to cover two years.
The Bill passed in house with a vote of 109-32 while in the senate passed with a 20-11 vote.
The Bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk Monday after lawmakers approved a compromise version of the Bill on Sunday. Pending the governor’s approval, the legislation goes into effect Jan. 1, 2025.