Not all states require vehicle safety inspections, but West Virginia requires drivers to undergo safety inspections for most vehicles every 12 months. Safety inspections look at the condition of your vehicle’s glass, tires, mirrors, lights, and other elements to ensure your vehicle is fit for the road. If you fail a safety inspection or miss an annual inspection, the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the right to demand you do not operate the vehicle until you remedy the situation.

Which Vehicles Need an Inspection?

The majority of vehicles in West Virginia are subject to inspections every 12 months, with a few exceptions. Passenger cars and passenger trucks, both light- and heavy-duty, must undergo inspection, as do all motorcycles and trailers. Trailers include semi-trailers and pole trailers. If you operate any of these vehicles, you must get them inspected regularly. The date of your inspection does not relate to your vehicle’s registration date. You will receive a sticker at your initial inspection with the date of your next inspection.

If you own a house trailer, special vehicles (Class “S” vehicles), trailers weighing under 2,000 pounds, or an antique vehicle, you are exempt from annual inspections. If your antique car has license plates with the same date as your model year – or the year of production – it is not exempt and must undergo inspection like any other vehicle. You can call (304) 558-3900 to get in touch with the West Virginia DMV and find out more information about exempt vehicles.

When you need your vehicle inspected, bring it to a police-authorized safety inspection location – typically an auto repair or auto service facility. Bring proof of car insurance and one proof of car ownership. Your vehicle’s title, registration card, bill of sale, Certificate of Origin, or a temporary registration will work. Be prepared to pay the inspection fee, which runs no more than $14.66 in West Virginia.

What Does the Inspection Cover?

The goal of West Virginia’s DMV inspections is to make sure the vehicle(s) you drive are safe for operation. Vehicles should not pose a threat to drivers, passengers, or fellow drivers on the roadway. Every year, the DMV will check each vehicle for issues relating to its:

  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Steering components
  • Metal frame
  • Tires
  • Seatbelts
  • Safety glass
  • Mirrors
  • Lights
  • Windshield wipers
  • Horn

Each element of your vehicle must pass the yearly safety inspection to receive a valid state inspection sticker. The auto servicer will place the inspection sticker on your windshield as proof that your vehicle passed inspection for the year. West Virginia does not require vehicle emission or smog testing, but you will receive special benefits if your vehicle is eco-friendly. You can receive rebates, tax incentives, and even insurance discounts.

What If My Vehicle Fails Inspection?

If the auto servicer finds anything amiss with a vehicle component, you will receive a rejection sticker. You must repair the element(s) within five days of your inspection. You will have to pay for another complete inspection before repairing or replacing the element if you fail to return to the auto servicer within five days. You cannot drive a vehicle that fails a safety inspection and carries a “rejection” sticker, except to have the vehicle repaired.

If you are involved in an auto accident with a vehicle with a failed inspection or whose owner failed to have it tested, you may have a case against the owner or operator for driver negligence. Get in touch with a Charleston car accident attorney at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC for legal advice concerning vehicle safety inspections and/or auto accidents. We can help you understand your rights as a driver in West Virginia and obtain compensation for an accident. Call our Charleston office at (304) 720-6700 or contact us online today.