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Dallas County Drivers: Check Your Expiration Date

For the next two months, a task force of Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies and Constables will be checking cars in parking lots for expired inspection stickers. But they’ll leave a friendly message on the windshield instead of a ticket.

This program is a first for the Emissions Task Force. It’s a warning for car owners to renew their annual inspection stickers. Chief Deputy Constable Charles Bailey says task force members will leave a flyer on the windshield talking about clean air, and how a smoke-spewing car that’s failed the state inspection emissions test pollutes the air and damages the health of Dallas County residents.

“It’s a very big problem when you consider the smog and how that affects people’s health, said Bailey. “It’s a very, very big concern.”

Registration Sticker Info: Texas Department Of Motor Vehicles

Sheriff Lupe Valdez says deputies are pretty good at spotting fake inspection stickers, too. She says they’ve have found a lot of them during investigations over the past couple of years.

“They have found over six thousand counterfeit stickers,” said Valdez. “Of course, there is a great concern here because those fake stickers make it possible for cars that are not suitable for the highway to be out on the highway.”

The Sheriff says those cars will get the warning flyer even if the date on the sticker is good. And she says the license numbers of all the cars will go into a database. If a car is tagged again for an expired inspection sticker, officers will know the driver was already warned. Officials say tickets can run between two and three hundred dollars.

There is help. The North Central Texas Council of Government’s Jason Brown says money is available to qualified, low-income car owners whose vehicles have failed the inspection emissions test. The program offers vouchers to pay for repairs.

“When they take that voucher, they’re going to have to pay $30 co-pay, but the program’s going to offer up to $600 on emissions repairs and getting that passing inspection,” said Brown.

Program organizers say the warnings and the vouchers are bonuses designed to prompt car owners to do the right thing.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.