By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It costs only $5 to get an inspection sticker for your vehicle but it can cost $125 if you’re caught without it.
Inspection stickers are decals for your windshield that let the Mississippi Highway Patrol know a vehicle has passed a safety inspection.
Only a state trooper can write a citation for an expired inspection sticker with the exception of the Natchez Trace Parkway, where a ranger has the authority.
Trooper Ray Hall said inspection sticker tickets are common. He said many people think it’s a secondary offense – meaning a trooper can’t stop a motorist just for an expired sticker and has to have a primary reason like speeding in order to make the stop. Not true. Troopers can and often do stop motorists just for having expired stickers.
Even though they are not very big and are placed in the bottom left corner of your windshield doesn’t mean a trooper passing by can’t see it. Just like car tags, the stickers are color coded.
“They only cost $5 so it’s simple and cheap to just go and get a sticker from someone who is certified to issue them rather than having to pay a large fine for not having one,” said Hall.
But nowadays finding certified inspectors is not as easy as it once was. When he started 20 years ago, Bennie Hankins of Hankins Service Center in Tupelo said you could pull into almost any service station in town and get an inspection sticker. But that’s no longer the case.
“There is no money in inspection stickers and it’s really a hassle,” said Hankins. “We get $3 for each one and the state gets the other $2. After going out to inspect the vehicle and make sure it meets inspection, you’ve spent more than $3 worth of time. I continue to do it as a service to my customers and that’s important to me.”
Hankins also performs tint inspections, which also costs $5, but he only receives $2 for those.
Tom’s Automotive in Tupelo also does vehicle inspections. Melody Curtis, a Tom’s employee, said some of the equipment required to do tint inspections may be the reason some businesses have gotten out of the inspection sticker business. Despite the low costs of the actual sticker, Curtis said there is potential for a business to make a little money.
“Sometimes if a vehicle is not up to inspection the person has to get that problem fixed and they will let us fix it for them,” she said. “That is one way we can get some extra money from an inspection. But very few people fail inspection so we don’t get that money very often.”
You have exactly one business day after the sticker is expired to get it renewed. If that day falls on a weekend or holiday, three days are given.
Hall said just because you get a ticket for an expired sticker doesn’t mean you have to pay it. If the sticker is updated before the court date, the fee can be waived.