West Virginia 2-year vehicle inspection bill awaiting governor’s signature
CHARLESTON — A bill that could change motor vehicle inspections in West Virginia to every two years is awaiting the signature of Gov. Jim Justice.
House Bill 2310, originally meant to create an antique fleet program for using a single plate for multiple cars and trucks, was amended to include the change in vehicle inspection frequency, a move the bill’s lead sponsor believes will benefit the lives of West Virginians while not putting drivers at risk.
According to the provisions of HB 2310, vehicles registered in West Virginia would undergo motor vehicle inspections every two years beginning Jan 1, 2024. The bill doubles the charge for an inspection sticker from $3 to $6 and increases the cap on what an official inspection station can charge for inspection from $14 to $19.
The bill’s original purpose is to modify the definition and permissible uses of antique motor vehicles and create an antique fleet plate program for owners of five or more antique vehicles.
Antique motor vehicles or motorcycles are defined as any vehicle 25 years old or more and owned solely as a collector’s item. Antique military vehicle is defined as any vehicle manufactured for use in any country’s military that maintains its history, design and markings.
HB 2310 would allow an antique vehicle owner to use a single license plate for multiple antique vehicles renewed annually. But the bill was amended by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to include the contents of Senate Bill 254, which changed motor vehicle inspections to every two years.
SB 254 passed the Senate Jan. 27 in a 23-5 vote and was recommended for passage by the House Technology and Infrastructure Committee, but it was referred to the House Finance Committee where it was never taken up.
The original version of HB 2310 passed the House Jan. 24 in a 90-3 vote. The bill was recommended for passage by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and was on its way to the Senate floor, but after some delays the bill was sent back to the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee again and amended to include the two-year vehicle inspection window. The House later concurred with the state Senate changes to the bill in a 94-0 vote, and the bill completed legislative action on March 3.
State Sen. Mike Stuart, the lead sponsor of SB 254, said with newer vehicles becoming more reliable, he believes moving inspections to every two years won’t put drivers in the state at risk.
“I think it’s the best compromise we could get between the Senate and the House,” Stuart said in an interview Thursday. “There were certainly members of the Senate and quite a few members of the House that would have preferred eliminating the requirement entirely, but I think a two-year time frame is entirely reasonable, especially with the quality of vehicles they make today.”
HB 2310 hit the desk of Justice Monday. When the Legislature is not in session, the governor has 15 days to either sign a bill or veto a bill. The governor can also allow a bill to become law without his signature.
“I want a little bit more time to do a review,” Justice said Wednesday during a virtual briefing with reporters from the Capitol. “My time is surely looking at it.
“It’s surely time-consuming and a nuisance in a lot of ways to have your car run down there every year and go through all this stuff and all of that and everything,” Justice continued. “At the same time, there’s a real safety issue with it. We’ll make the best decision we can possibly make here.”
“I think one of the questions is what will this do to vehicular safety in West Virginia,” Stuart said. “I don’t think it compromises it one bit. Going from one year to two years is completely reasonable.”
West Virginia is one of 14 states as of 2020 that require annual vehicle inspections according to Kelly Blue Book, including neighboring Virginia and Pennsylvania. If signed into law, West Virginia would join five states that either do inspections every two years or have other special safety requirements. Maryland requires inspection of used vehicles before being sold. Kentucky requires vehicle inspection for vehicles not purchased in Kentucky, while Ohio has no vehicle inspection requirement.
“There are states that don’t have an inspection situation at all,” Justice said. “To go to every two years doesn’t seem inadequate, but just gives us a little more time.”
“I’m hopeful the governor does sign the bill,” Stuart said. “I think it’s a great bill for West Virginians from a convenience standpoint and a time standpoint.”
Steven Allen Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.