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Repairers will soon be able to conduct Connecticut vehicle safety inspections under new law

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Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has signed legislation into law that, effective July 1, will allow repair shops authorized by the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct safety inspections on salvage and altered vehicles.

SB 183 passed unanimously in the Senate and 132-19 in the House earlier this month. Lamont signed the bill May 21.

The new law includes “any motor vehicle that (1) has been reconstructed, (2) is composed or assembled from the several parts of other motor vehicles, (3) the identification and body contours of which are so altered that the vehicle no longer bears the characteristics of any specific make of motor vehicle.”

“Salvage vehicle” is defined in the law as one that has been declared a total loss by an insurance carrier and subsequently reconstructed whereas “altered vehicle” is defined as one that has been materially modified from its original construction by the removal, addition, or substitution of essential new or used parts.

The law applies to “composite” and “grey-market” vehicles as well. Composite means a vehicle composed or assembled from several parts of other vehicles, from a motor vehicle kit, or that has been altered, assembled, or modified from the OEM’s specifications.

“Grey-market vehicle” means one that is manufactured for use outside of, and imported into, the U.S. without meeting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards, or Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards.

Any altered vehicle, composite vehicle, or grey-market vehicle will require inspections at DMV locations designated by the commissioner.

The DMV commissioner may ask vehicle owners to provide proof of lawful purchase of any major component part that wasn’t part of the vehicle when first sold by the manufacturer, the law states.

Written testimony submitted to the Senate Transportation Committee from DMV Commissioner Antonio “Tony” Guerrera stated that, over the past three years, there have been 2,000 salvage inspections conducted by the DMV per year, and the inspections could only be done at the Wethersfield DMV office.

“If authorized, the DMV would plan a careful and limited program rollout to ensure a quality network of selected providers,” Guerrera stated. “The agency believes this proposal could create efficiencies and reduce operating costs to the DMV for staffing and facilities upkeep.”

He noted that SB 183 would also set a minimum surety bond requirement for automobile recyclers.

“Currently, recyclers are not required to have a bond on file with the DMV,” he testified. “A bond provides a safety net that can be used to address unexpected situations, ensures consumers are protected by the recycler’s obligations and encourages responsible business practices.”

Several other state legislative bodies have been looking into safety inspections in their respective states this year.

Two recently filed companion bills in New York would require if passed, the state’s commissioner of motor vehicles to conduct a study to review if safety inspection requirements need to be updated.

After years of development, the California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is rolling out a stringent inspection program for rebuilt total loss salvaged vehicles.

In Pennsylvania, legislators are working to repeal inspection requirements. The attempt in Pennsylvania began in 2023 under a memorandum but has seemingly made no progress toward approval.

Mandatory annual vehicle inspections were repealed in Texas last June. Inspections will no longer be required beginning in January 2025.

In addition to vehicles being inspected annually under varying state laws, motorists may decide to have used cars looked over before purchasing them — that’s where repairers can help, by offering those inspections.

A recent example of the importance of vehicle safety inspections and how repairers can help avoid tragedy comes out of the death of a young Florida mother. According to a lawsuit filed by her estate, Destiny Byassee unknowingly purchased a vehicle that should’ve been deemed a total loss but was instead improperly fixed and put up for sale.

During the collision that killed Byassee, the lawsuit claims that the seatbelt pretensioner didn’t deploy as originally designed and fragments from a counterfeit front driver-side air bag struck Byassee in the face, head, and neck.


Featured image credit: Anastasiia_M/iStock

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