Car enthusiasts call for changes in safety check procedures

Owners of modified cars are hitting a road block when it comes to getting their safety checks. Some say it’s not fair. A lot of it has to do with the electronic safety check system using iPads, requiring safety check inspectors to be more strict. So, owners of modified vehicles must first get a reconstruction or “recon” permit which requires an additional inspection.

But car enthusiasts say if safety is the main issue, then the laws need to change because they’re being targeted for no good reason.

There are a lot of car owners out there who just like to fix up old cars as a hobby. They call themselves the Lunch Bunch, classic car buffs who get together a few times a week to show off their ride. On weekends, they draw hundreds of people who want to get a good look. It’s harmless fun, but car owners say lately, they feel more like outlaws.

“We’re not a bunch of renegades or guys who race on the streets,” said car enthusiast Steven Luiz. “It’s a passion that we have for these older classic cars, so it’s more of just a hobby.”

That’s because fixing up their ride means having to get a reconstruction permit from the city before they can pass the safety check inspection. They were able to pass before, but it’s harder to do since the state started the electronic safety check system using iPads.

Fred Calleon spent $27,000 worth of improvements on his 1987 Cutlass Supreme, but he’s been told it won’t pass inspection. “All of these cars are all safe,” Calleon insisted. “They even went after market to make it more safe, (like) disc brakes. You get older cars, they don’t come with disc brakes.”

State Sen. Sam Slom has been a longtime critic of the state’s safety check system and has tried to pass laws to get rid of it. He says the city’s recon permit is an added burden to drivers. “It (means) extra steps, extra places you have to go and sometimes the city doesn’t have the staffing for it,” Slom said.

Sen. Slom says there are other ways to ensure safety on the roads that would be less inconvenient for drivers, like doing more of the process online. “It seems to be a thing that we could look at other states and other municipalities to see how they do it. I think this is something that we certainly could and should do better,” he said.

The city says there’s about a two month wait for getting a recon permit appointment but it plans to add staffing and extend the hours.

Related Story: Modified cars present problems for new safety checks

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