When it comes to vehicles and their annual emissions test, California doesn’t take failure lightly. Your vehicle has to pass the test in order to stay on the road. The idea is that not only does the strict emissions test help reduce smog, but it also keeps older vehicles that are in danger of falling apart off the road.
An emissions test isn’t a big deal right up to the moment when you’re told that your car didn’t make the cut. Now it’s time to make some big decisions.
What the State of California Does
When a vehicle fails the emission test, the state of California doesn’t straight up say you can no longer drive it. What they actually do is refuse to register it, which means that shortly after your test, you’ll be driving on expired tags, something local patrol cops are very good at spotting.
The Cost of Expired Tags
If you’re tempted to simply ignore the whole emissions thing and simply drive on expired tags, there’s something you should consider. If you get caught, you’ll have to pay a fine. Your vehicle will also be impounded, and it will cost you a pretty penny to get it back, and you still won’t be able to drive it (or even get it out of impound) until the issue with the tags and emissions test have been resolved. Keep in mind that the longer the police have your vehicle in the impound lot, the higher the related fees go.
The other thing to consider is that having expired tags also makes it possible for the police to search your vehicle. If they find anything in it that shouldn’t be there, the emissions test and expired tags will be the least of your worries.
Dealing with the Issue
Rather than trying to sneak around town on expired tags, you should either consider selling your car or having the exhaust system replaced. Once the exhaust is fixed you’ll have to have the vehicle tested a second time. If it passes, you’ll be free to go to your local DMV and get a brand-new registration. The exact cost of the repairs depends on what parts need to be replaced.