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Check engine light reprieve

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

A bogus check engine light won't keep you off the road, at least not if Vermont state representatives get their way.

If your car's check engine light is on, your car is supposed to fail its inspection, even if nothing is actually wrong. That's not a new law; it's been on the books for about 20 years. But new inspection technology means it's actually being enforced.

Proponents say the law is overly burdensome on the poor, but others argue changing the law takes the state in the wrong direction.

"If you value that in your car and want that fixed, you get it fixed. For other people, enhh, you know what, I'll save the money and keep driving; it's not related to safety," said Rep. Brian Keefe, R-Manchester.

"I propose that it is a good thing. That we actually believe in Vermont in protecting our environment. That we actually believe in enforcing our laws," said Rep. Dave Sharpe, D-Bristol.

Several representatives would prefer to see the check engine light requirement scrapped or even get rid of inspections altogether.

The House voted overwhelmingly in favor of giving drivers a pass through May of next year if the check engine light is the only problem. The Senate is also expected to sign off on the change.

The proposal is part of a larger DMV bill full of miscellaneous changes.

One is an increase in penalties for drivers who break the state's hands-free phone law. Representatives want to increase penalty points in work and school zones, and add points to violations elsewhere on the road.

There's also a change that allows those who trade-in VW diesel cars to still cash in on a trade-in tax credit.

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