Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order last week that indefinitely extends expiration dates on all vehicle inspection stickers and registrations, as well as driver’s licenses and state IDs. Expiration dates are extended until the state of emergency caused by the spread of coronavirus in Maine is lifted.
Included in the order are all driver’s licenses, permits, state identification cards, commercial driver’s licenses, dealer licenses, salvage motor vehicle recycler licenses, driver and rider school licenses and instructor licenses. In addition, the Maine State Police, which is responsible for overseeing Maine’s annual vehicle inspection program, is also extending expiration dates on vehicle inspections and registrations, and temporary registrations, for the duration of the state of emergency.
The order issued last week extends a similar order issued on March 15. Maine police departments have been directed halt enforcement of expired vehicle inspections as well.
“The State of Maine recognizes the needs of individuals, families and businesses for transportation, work and commerce during the emergency. These registrations can be renewed after the emergency ends,” the Secretary of State’s Office said in a statement.
Lawmakers had the opportunity to eliminate Maine’s annual vehicle inspection program entirely in the First Session of the 129th Legislature. However, the state’s transportation committee unanimously voted in opposition to the bill despite evidence that inspections waste time and money while providing no benefit towards improving public health and safety.
Discussing the inspection program, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dave Miramant, said, “No evidence supports that [the inspection program] has any benefit, and I still say we’re taking advantage of Maine drivers at a time when they can least afford it, and not to any safety benefit.”
He cited a 2017 Brigham Young University study that found:
“Terminating the vehicle safety inspection program resulted in no significant change in either the frequency or intensity of fatalities due to car failure. This finding strongly suggests that vehicle safety inspection programs are no longer necessary, and are simply a form of redidual government oversight. Government attention to other areas (e.g. distracted driving laws, seat belt enforcement, etc.) is more efficient than safety inspections at ensuring road safety.”
In 2019, the state generated $3.5 million in revenue from Mainers through the vehicle inspection program. In recent years, lawmakers have also turned down proposals to move to a biennial inspection program and to eliminate the inspection requirement for newer vehicles.
The temporary hiatus in vehicle inspections and enforcement should give lawmakers new motor vehicle safety data to examine in the 130th Legislature, hopefully to eliminate the state’s annual inspection program once and for all.