Remember the days when an inspection sticker cost five bucks and everyone had "a guy" that could get you a sticker no matter what kind of shape your car was in? Long gone. Many of you may not be aware of new changes in the process that could make it more difficult than ever to get a sticker.

As of October 1st, the Chicago-based Applus Technologies took over emissions testing for the Massachusetts Vehicle Check program, a joint initiative of the MassDEP and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Applus won a $29 million dollar contract to run the program for the next five years. An eight year deal with Parsons Technologies expired on September 30th.

An inspection sticker costs $35 dollars for a normal passenger car. The test will take around 15 minutes, although changes in testing equipment (which cost inspection stations between $5 thousand and $10 thousand dollars per testing bay) could result in more lengthy tests at first, and thus delays.

One big change...more vehicles will fail the new test that might have passed the old system. The new system requires inspection stations to install a minimum of three video cameras to make sure that the test is being implemented properly and that violations, such as rust holes and worn tires are not being allowed to slide. The use of video cameras has been delayed until next year however, due to problems rolling out the system by October 1st.

Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollock tells The State House News Service the video cameras will help to prevent fraud;

"The video was an added layer of quality control, which we're looking forward to rolling out, but it made sense to delay on that to make sure that we could get the core inspection program up and running."

Portable cameras will also be used to record vehicle identification numbers, odometer readings and other relative information.

Being caught with an expired inspection sticker could result in surchargeable points to your insurance premiums and will count as a surcharageable event for license suspension/revocation purposes, according the The State House News Service. says the $35 sticker fee you pay breaks down this way:

  • $23.50 to the inspection station
  • $1.32 to Applus
  • $10.17 to the state

After 4.4 million inspections are completed, the vendor fee for Applus is reduced to 43 cents per inspection.

Welcome to Massachusetts, the land of opportunity. I wonder how many working people will be forced to junk their wheels as a result of this new policy? Hey, could be worse. You could have traded your soul for a couple of pay raises, right?

Editor’s Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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