There's a reason Texas is the Paper Plate State.
Texas law enforcement fraud investigators believe millions of Texas cars on the road never passed their state-required safety or emissions tests, according to NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth.
Over a year ago, NBC5 reports uncovered small state-licensed car dealers illegally selling temporary paper license plates, often to get cars that couldn't pass a state inspection.
Now, the news channel that dubbed Texas the "Paper Tag Nation" has revealed the problem goes even deeper. Inspections regularly and fraudulently pass cars while state the agencies that run the vehicle inspection program do little about it. And it's not just dangerous cars on paper plates people are sharing the roads with.
According to Sgt. Jose Escribano, an investigator with a Travis County Constables unit specializing in inspection and license plate fraud, says the system leaves "the door totally open to fraud." He estimates that as many as five million cars have bypassed the system on the road, potentially running with several safety problems. That seems likely as there are no logical reasons to avoid Texas' annual safety inspection.
The estimated amount of cars comes from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality emissions inspection data that assesses the percentage of inspections with red flags for fraud identified by the Travis County Constables unit.
To drive the point home, NBC 5 filmed a small auto shop for over an hour without seeing any cars going in or out, yet inspection records show the shop inspected 23 vehicles during that time. Likely, the shop is simply plugging the emissions analyzer into a car that would pass over and over again, but there is a device out there that can simply be plugged into the analyzer.
If the car isn't there, then, obviously, it's not getting the state-required safety inspection either. It's easy money for the shops and isn't even checked for insurance. However, once the car has been passed, the owner can get a temporary license plate, regular metal plates, and its annual registration stickers.
Prices to "pass" the inspections range from $100 to $500, which is often going to be a lot cheaper than having a car repaired properly. Particularly that 12-year-old white base model Nissan Versa with its bumpers hanging off.
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