Raimondo to DMV: Hold off on charging $250 for overdue vehicle inspections

Photo: Gloria So/WPRI 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo on Tuesday told the R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles to halt the implementation of a controversial $250 fee for not getting vehicles inspected on time.

“Pump the brakes, hold off, don’t do it,” Raimondo said she told the DMV on Tuesday. The decision came just hours after House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello called on her to halt implementation of the fee.

The fee actually comes from a 2009 law that mandated a $250 charge to reinstate a registration after it’s been suspended, for reasons such as a DUI, lack of insurance or late inspection. But the DMV has been collecting the fees for every type of suspension except the inspections, because of an old computer system.

DMV spokesperson Paul Grimaldi said the while the old computer system could automatically reinstate a suspended registration after someone finally got their inspection, it didn’t effectively track upcoming expiration dates in order to send advance notices of the potential $250 fine.

With a brand new computer system installed over the summer, Grimaldi said the DMV was finally going to start collecting the fee in January.

“These are regular folks who tend to have older cars and have to spend a lot of money to get them inspected,” Speaker Mattiello said in an interview with Eyewitness News on Tuesday. “Another $250 can be substantial and sometimes devastating.”

Raimondo agreed, saying Mattiello “significantly” influenced her decision to direct the DMV to hold off until the legislature revisits the issue.

“It does put a burden on people,” Raimondo told reporters Tuesday. “That’s a lot of money. 250 bucks is a lot of money.”

Mattiello said he wants the legislature to amend the 2009 law to remove the fee for late inspections, but keep it in for other offenses that suspend a registration such as lack of insurance or DUI.

People who are late on their inspections will still be subject to a registration suspension, but will continue to be automatically reinstated without charge after getting the inspection done.

Motorists can still receive a fine from police during a traffic stop for an expired sticker.

The DMV estimated the fee could raise $2.5 million per year, but said the goal is to encourage compliance with the law, not to make money.

Grimaldi said the fee would have only been charged after drivers had received a notice and were 65 days overdue for an inspection.

Raimondo said she isn’t sure if she’ll propose to keep the fee in place in her budget proposal in January.