Expired vehicle inspection stickers and Virginia law

Judging from the number of cars on the road with expired inspection stickers, there is no shortage of people who forget or are unable to take their cars in for their Virginia State inspection in a timely manner.

Car Inspection

Virginia Code §46.2-1157 requires that “[t]he owner or operator of any motor vehicle, trailer, or semitrailer registered in Virginia and operated or parked on a highway within the Commonwealth shall submit his vehicle to an inspection of its mechanism and equipment by an official inspection station.”

Frequently Asked Questions about Expired State Inspection Stickers in Virginia

How Long Can You Drive with an Expired Inspection Sticker in Virginia?

Motor vehicles must be inspected on a yearly basis. If a vehicle does not pass inspection, the operator of that vehicle has up to 15 days to have the failing inspection item(s) corrected in order to be awarded a passing inspection.

man getting pulled over y police

Can You Get Pulled Over for an Expired Inspection Sticker in Virginia?

Virginia Code §46.2-1157 states that “[n]o law-enforcement officer shall stop a motor vehicle due to an expired vehicle inspection sticker until the first day of the fourth month after the original expiration date.”

It is also worth noting that, once you’ve been ticketed for your first expired inspection sticker offense, every day “after failure to comply with this law shall constitute a separate offense.” This means that you should get your vehicle inspected as soon as possible, or risk being ticketed again, every day that your vehicle with an expired inspection is driven or parked on a Virginia road thereafter.

What is the Penalty for an Expired Inspection Sticker in Virginia?

Failure to have your motor vehicle inspected is a traffic infraction and is penalized as a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, the court has the discretion to dismiss the charge and may do so if the offense has been remedied prior to the court hearing.

Can You Get A Ticket On the Way to the Mechanic?

Imagine driving down the road and you realize that your inspection sticker expired a few days earlier. You call your mechanic to schedule an appointment and drive directly to the shop for the inspection. After parking your car on the street, you go inside the shop to let the mechanic know it is parked outside. By the time you go back to your car, you have a ticket for an expired sticker on your vehicle. That doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

Vehicles with expired stickers are actually protected from being ticketed if they are being driven directly “between the place where such vehicle is kept or garaged and an official inspection station for the purpose of having the same inspected pursuant to a prior appointment with such station.” Now, even if your vehicle is displaying an expired inspection sticker, if the vehicle is parked and awaiting inspection at an official inspection station, the vehicle will be exempt from being ticketed for the traffic infraction.