Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is asking Governor Gina Raimondo to put the brakes on a Division of Motor Vehicles plan of charging a $250 fee on top of the ordinary costs of a motor vehicle inspection for Rhode Island drivers who are late in having their vehicles inspected.
“An additional $250 fee for an expired sticker is excessive. I support compliance with our laws but also recognize we must not establish roadblocks that keep Rhode Islanders from being able to get back into compliance,” said Mattiello. “I’ve heard from a number of my colleagues about their concerns about how this will adversely affect their constituents. I ask that the governor not to implement this $250 registration reinstatement fee until it can be considered in the next legislative session.”
Last week Representatives Thomas Winfield (Democrat, District 53, Smithfield), Stephen Ucci ((Democrat, District 42, Johnston, Cranston) and Katherine Kazarian (Democrat, District 63, East Providence) announced that they are profiling legislation to prevent the new fee.
“A late fee that is nearly five times the cost of the inspection itself seems excessive. That kind of money can be an insurmountable expense for many people, and it will just prevent them from ever going back and getting their cars inspected. The result is uninspected and possibly unsafe cars on the road, and that’s counter to what the inspection process is supposed to accomplish,” said Winfield, the prime sponsor of the bill.
Representative Aaron Regunberg (Democrat, District 4, providence), a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, called on the legislature to rescind the fee as well.
“Our tax system is fundamentally regressive,” Regunberg said. “Right now in Rhode Island, middle- and low-income families pay almost twice the share of their family income in state and local taxes as the top one percent. That’s not good economic policy, and another $250 fine will add to this regressive system and make it harder for Rhode Islanders who are already struggling to get by. That’s why I am calling for the General Assembly to stop raising revenue off the backs of working families and instead look to common sense solutions, like ensuring hedge fund millionaires aren’t paying a lower tax rate than custodians and firemen.”
The Division of Motor Vehicles included in its Fiscal Year 2018 budget revised request to the governor a proposal to begin suspending the registrations of those found to have expired inspections starting January 1 thanks to the capabilities of the DMV’s new computer system. Currently fines for expired inspections are assessed through law enforcement and vehicle stops. Drivers are subject to an $85 fine and potential suspension of their registration for continued noncompliance. The current fee to reinstate a suspended registration is $250. Since its new computer system went live July 1, the DMV has already begun sending letters to owners of vehicles whose inspections have expired notifying them that they need to have them inspected.