Letter to the editor: New DMV rules an entire ‘power grab’

I don’t like when state bureaucrats figure out a new way to intrude in our lives, and charge us additional tax dollars while they are at it. It also bugs me when they disguise their schemes in the name of “safety.” I’ll give the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles credit for being crooked, though; they’ve concocted a scam to increase costs to drivers, enlarge their bureaucracy, and cluck about safety all without public input or Legislative review.
As this newspaper reported, from now on when you take your car or truck to be inspected, your local mechanic will not be the individual who approves or denies your inspection. Rather, someone behind a desk in Montpelier, or his computer, will determine if you can drive your vehicle for another year.
This isn’t about safety, this is a power grab by DMV. There is not an existing problem being fixed. Just the opposite — many, many cars and trucks that are currently safely being driven will no longer be inspectable. Not because they are dangerous in any way; but because they won’t pass the uniform, exaggerated standards suddenly enforced to the letter by the DMV.
I have heard the arguments by the heads of DMV that this about safety, and there is enough baloney in their sound bites to give anyone heartburn. Here’s a quick example of what will happen in the real world. About one-third of all used Subarus being driven in the United States are in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. I’d bet it’s a rare driver of one of these, or similar vehicles, who hasn’t seen their “check engine” light illumine. This is because these types of cars are notorious for having minor oxygen sensor and exhaust issues. And I do mean minor, as these have absolutely nothing to do with safety and unmeasurable impact on emissions.
If you have a car or truck with such insignificant issues — ones which many reasonable mechanics recognize are not worth denying you the ability to drive to work or plow your driveway — you will soon be out of luck. Most of us driving older vehicles can’t afford the hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs that would be required. Plus, the repairs themselves are often short-lived in older vehicles, and purchasing another used vehicle will probably result in the same problem being repeated. Sensor light troubles can result from well over 100 different causes, few of a serious nature. The DMV has no data to prove their draconian plan will improve safety or reduce emissions. This is a plain old power grab and it may well even lead to more costs to us in the future (think: “yearly mileage tax”).
DMV must have known this kooky new system would have produced an outcry, so they never held public hearings. They also never presented it to the Vermont Legislature for review. They must have known there would have been fierce opposition. It was likely cooked up in a cauldron of bureaucratic wizardry — “Hey, Joe, I have a great idea how we can gain more control, increase revenue, and add employees…” Then, “Good thinking, Bill, just don’t forget the ol’ switcheroo by claiming it’s about safety.”
Thanks, DMV, for this costly, unnecessary and burdensome boondoggle. I hope our legislators roll this mess back before it gets too entrenched.
Prem Prakash
East Middlebury

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