When I first heard of Gov. Ralph Northam’s plan to eliminate state inspections for passenger vehicles, I was very pleased. “Finally, we are going to join the majority of the nation and get the government off our backs a little,” I thought.
However, after thinking it over, I do have some concerns, especially considering the nature of law enforcement in Virginia, which, to my experience, has always seemed stricter than most other areas. I’ve lived in Virginia my entire life, and I’ve never known much good to come from Richmond.
My concern is the possibility of being harassed by law enforcement for driving less-than-perfect vehicles. I had an old bang-around truck a short time ago (my father has it now), a 25-year-old Dodge that, from a distance, looks like it has no business on the road, and yes, I’ve had to maintain it often. Yet each and every year I managed to get a safety inspection for it, and for that reason I feel like law enforcement basically left me alone when driving it.
Getting an inspection sticker was like getting a “pass.” It was an immediate indicator to local LEOs that the vehicle, no matter how “rough-looking,” had recently passed a safety inspection by a mechanic licensed in the trade, thus cops would drive on by, unless you were committing a moving violation of course.
If paying $20 per year and keeping up the safety aspects of my vehicles is enough to keep me from getting nuisance stops from cops every time I turn around, I’m happy to just keep the inspections. Remember, in Virginia, there’s always a catch; watch for it. And if you think Richmond has your best interest at heart, you ain’t lived here long enough ...