Illinois will temporarily allow registration renewals without vehicle emissions tests

Illinois will temporarily allow registration renewals without vehicle emissions tests

The secretary of state’s office has announced it will temporarily allow drivers to renew their vehicle registrations without first passing emissions tests.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that starting March 1, his office will allow vehicle owners to renew their license plates without first passing a vehicle emissions test. The secretary of state is implementing this temporary policy to accommodate vehicle owners who will not receive mailed vehicle-emissions-test notices from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Due to budget gridlock in Springfield, the Illinois EPA stopped mailing notices of emissions-test requirements to vehicle owners in December 2015. White has said his office will resume regular registration-renewal procedures as soon as the Illinois EPA starts mailing emissions-test notices again.

The Illinois EPA has traditionally sent notices to vehicle owners four months ahead of the owners’ emissions test deadlines. Vehicle owners whose license plates expire at the end of March are the first to not receive the mailed notices.

Though some Illinois vehicle owners are exempt from the emissions-test requirement, many Illinois vehicle owners must pass a vehicle emissions test to renew their license plates. (Factors such as a vehicle’s year, model and fuel source, as well as the zip code of the owner, determine whether a vehicle must pass an emissions test prior to the renewal of the vehicle’s registration.)

This temporary policy change comes on the heels of White’s office’s announcement in September 2015 that it would stop mailing vehicle-registration renewal reminders to vehicle owners in an effort to save $450,000 per month.

Illinois vehicle owners can sign up online for email reminders for both registration-renewal deadlines and vehicle-emissions-test requirements. Drivers who do not sign up for email notifications will need to renew their registrations in person, as they will not have the necessary personal identification numbers for online renewal.

Illinois is in its eighth month without a budget, and its unpaid bills total more than $7 billion.

Although switching to electronic reminders to save money is not a bad idea, the abrupt stoppage of mailed vehicle-registration reminders and emissions-test notices necessitated by the budget stalemate has subjected thousands of Illinoisans to uncertainty and unnecessary fines and fees. Temporary rule changes may be necessary under the circumstances, but the real, long-term solution lies in the General Assembly’s passing a budget the state can afford.

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