AUGUSTA (WGME) -- Legislators in Augusta will once again debate the future of car inspections in the state as a new bill looks to move them from once a year to every other year.
The debate over when to inspect vehicles or if the process is needed at all has come up year after year at the State House, with little to no success or change.
"We're looking out for safety issues with brakes, suspensions, steering and exhaust leaks," said Roger Obie of 1st Choice Auto in Augusta. "The good is, we're getting vehicles fixed that are unsafe for the road."
Mechanics like Obie believes the inspection process is still needed because of how harsh Maine roads are on cars, but he thinks there is still room for some changes that won't compromise safety.
"I do think the program could use some revamping and I don't think it should go away all together," Obie said. "People will say it's because it's a money maker for garages, I get that, but based on the vehicles we see it's important that we keep the vehicles on the road safe."
LD 746, introduced by Sen. Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic), seeks to move the state to biennial vehicle inspections and allow the Maine State Police to completely modernize the inspection program.
Every year, around 1.3 million cars are inspected in Maine. According to the Maine State Police around 25-30% of those vehicles will fail inspection.
For that reason, the head of the state's Motor Vehicle Inspection Program, Lt. Bruce Scott, says his office will oppose the proposed legislation.
"We feel like it would double the number of vehicles that are on the road with defects and we would increase the number of crashes and decrease safety," Lt. Scott said. "We're not willing to do that to compromise safety and to allow for a vehicle to go two years without being inspected."
While MSP says the inspection system does need to be modernized, the agency feels biennial inspections could put public safety at risk. Currently, Maine is one of only three states that still runs its vehicle inspection program on paper forms and handwritten documents. The proposed legislation would also allow the state to move to an electronic inspection system.
"We certainly know we need to leverage technology and we want to improve our process and kind of streamline what we're doing," said Lt. Scott.
Reporter Dan Lampariello - "Do you think there's some sort of compromise here?"
Sen. Elosie Vitelli - "Oh, absolutely. This is a discussion that we have in the legislature. I think from my perspective, the important thing is to modernize the system and then we can do something that makes much more sense overall.""
The bill had a public hearing in Augusta Thursday afternoon. A workshop is scheduled for next week.