What do car inspection e-sticker fees really pay for in NC?

Reported by Casey Roman - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Sometimes it can be difficult to remember when it's time to get your car inspected, so state's "e-sticker" program was created to make the process easier.

You pay a fee to the state everytime you get your car inspected.

In Safety & Emmissions Inspection Counties the sticker fee is $6.25, with the breakdown being:

  • $0.55 to the highway fund
  • $3.00 to the Emmissions Account
  • $1.75 to the Telecommunications Account
  • $0.18 to EMS
  • $0.12 to Rescue Squad
  • $0.65 to Air Quality

In Safety Inspection only counties the sticker fee is $0.85, with the breakdown being:

  • $0.55 to Highway Fund
  • $0.18 to EMS
  • $0.12 to Rescue Squad

"Frankly, it looks like one of these nickel and dime things where the government takes from us and sends it to the coffers," said NC Representative Danny McCommas.

When your car passes inspection, you fork up some cash to pay for an "e-sticker." But, what the state fails to tell drivers is that they aren't really paying for the sticker.

"The $6.25 fee has never been for the particular sticker," said Assistant DMV Supervisor David Bradley.

If you look on your bill you will see a "sticker fee," though you're actually paying for state funded programs like air quality and EMS.

According to the DMV, the fee has always existed even though cars no longer get stickers.

"They're mandated by our legislators and I couldn't explain why that's there other than that its mandated by them," said Bradley.

Legislators say this is how the government slide things into you so you don't see it coming.

"This is something that's caught me totally by surprise because I was not aware of the breakdown," said McComas.

McComas said hidden fees like the "e-sticker" help pay for programs, but at a high cost.

"It's a little bit here and it's a little bit there and its chipping' away at the confidence of good government," said McComas.

Regular checks underneath the hood are good maintenance and the sticker is a good reminder, but it's also a reminder we need to keep check on our government too.