Vt. drivers frustrated by new DMV emissions protocols

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) If you have a "2" on your windshield inspection sticker, it's time to bring your vehicle into the shop for an annual review. But new DMV emissions protocols that went into effect this week mean additional complications and expenses for some. Now, lawmakers are wondering how they can help.

Ben Bonanno says he is fed up with what it takes to get his truck inspected. "It's always something. Everytime I go in it's something," he said.

The Colchester resident says rules were already too strict and now that the state is making it harder to pass inspection he's had it. "It seems like they are nailing us for everything now, it's ridiculous," he said.

And he isn't alone. Especially when it comes to paying for fixes discovered during an inspection.

"It's not that the person dosn't want to fix it, it's just at this point people are worried about how they are going to make it through," said Jude Hersey of Williston.

"If your check engine light is on and you know it's something minor but you just don't have the money to pay for it..." said Mary Popke of Hinesburg. She's one of those who won't be able to pass inspection with her check engine light on under the new law. It's something she is worried about. "The guy that does the inspection says that he would pass it this year, but won't do it again."

"The issue that is really hitting front and center is the expense when the engine light -- it's a very costly fix," said Senate Transportation Committee Chair Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle County. He says they are working to help subsidize the burden for Vermonters, but it's still unclear how. "We have to get an estimate on how much this has to cost."

Right now, for repairs over $200 not covered by warranties, the state can grant a waiver for one year. But that doesn't make getting the problem fixed any cheaper, it only gives drivers longer to save up before getting the work done.

"Two-hundred dollars doesn't seem like a lot for some folks but $200 bucks is a lot of money in rural Vermont for those driving back and forth from work," Mazza said.

State money that could help keep cars on the road and pass inspection is something Bonanno is in favor of. "Oh yeah, to help us out that would be great. Anything would help," he said.

Some repair shops told WCAX drivers were ditching their old cars when they found out how much it might cost to fix their car's emission problems -- another consequence of the new inspection system.