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How Car Emission Laws Vary from State to State

Driving Cars in a Traffic Jam

As a response to worldwide pollution concerns, many states have instigated mandatory emissions testing, which are also called “smog” tests. Some stipulate that only overpopulated areas are required to endure the testing, while others don’t regulate it at all.

Generally speaking, brand new, as well as classic and antique models, and electric/hybrids qualify for exemptions in these states. Residents of these states whose vehicles fail the tests are required to have repairs done at their own expense. Here’s an overview of some states that utilize emission testing.

States With Certain Area Requirements

These states require emissions testing for certain counties or cities only: Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.

Some states pick certain counties to require testing, so it’s important to check with your state to see if you live in one of those areas. The state of Washington, for example, only requires residents of certain counties to pass an emission inspection once every two years. The affected counties are Clark, King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane. Hybrid vehicles that are rated for 50 mpg or more in the city are excluded from the tests.

Washington vehicle owners are alerted through their registration paperwork that they’ll need an emission inspection before they can renew again. If your car fails the inspection, you’ll need to have it repaired. If the repairs total more than $150, and the car still fails, you may qualify for a repair waiver, and you’ll be able to register your car for the next year.

The only county in Idaho that requires residents to have their registered vehicles tested for emission levels is Northern Ada County. It uses stickers to identify vehicles that have passed the test.

States With Required Periodic Emission Testing

The following states require emission tests statewide: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont.

These states all have emissions requirements required every one to two years depending on the state, except classic and collector vehicles, along with brand new vehicles, electric models, and hybrids.

Classic and antique models, alternatively fueled vehicles, brand new cars (the definition of “new” varies from state to state), and other qualifying vehicles are typically exempt from this requirement. This exemption makes it easier for owners of collector and antique cars to get classic car insurance and keep their cars on the road for as long as they’d like.

Some states, such as Utah have further guidelines for the frequency of the testing. Vehicles that are less than six years old need to pass every two years, while older models up to 25 years are to be tested each year. Cars with a model year of 1967 or older are exempt. Generally states with emissions testing require owners of vehicles that have failed the test to have repairs done to bring them up to regulation at the their own expense.

States With no Emission Testing

The following U.S. states do not require any emission testing for automobiles: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota.

Since these states don’t require emission tests, it’s up to individual vehicle owners to exercise their own judgement when it comes to their car’s impact on the environment.

With 50 states that all have their own laws about emissions testing, it can be hard to keep them all straight. Many of the states that don’t require testing at all are less densely populated than states that require the tests in certain areas or statewide. This list gives a good idea about which states have emissions testing requirements, but be sure to check your home state’s specific guidelines, as frequency and exemption rules vary from state to state. If you’re the owner of a classic or antique vehicle though, you’re likely in the clear. Each state has different definitions of antique and classic cars, ranging from 1968 to 1964.

Image via Flickr by epSos.de
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Posted by on November 5, 2013. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION,Environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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2 Responses to How Car Emission Laws Vary from State to State

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    November 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Abby does do a good job for us. I enjoy her articles.

  2. Norman Rampart Reply

    November 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    In Britain we are dying in the smog and, I suspect, will always be.

    I will stop breathing now and try to live a bit longer 😉

    You really do such good contributions young lady! Crack on and those who care will let you know they do. x

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