Drivers in ‘sticker shock’ over new safety check technology

Getting a safety check is proving to be more difficult for some drivers because of the state’s new electronic system.

On November 1, 2013, safety check stations across the state were required to do vehicle safety checks using iPads, a wireless router and printer. The new technology means there’s no room to cheat the system.

The change isn’t a problem for Arnel Nartatez. Nartatez is proud of his truck and the stickers he puts all over his back window, but when he gets a safety check, he scrapes off each sticker, including the ones on his windshield, with a razor. Once he passes the safety check, he puts all of the stickers back on.

“When I got my safety check before, they don’t mind,” Nartatez said. “Now, because of the new one, because they take pictures, they tell us to take them off.”

It’s not a new law, but safety inspectors who might have looked the other way in the past are having a difficult time doing that now. With the electronic safety check system, a photo of the vehicle must be taken, which basically gives the state evidence of each inspection.

Mark Yamauchi, owner of Yama’s Auto Care, says he’s always followed the law and will continue to tell drivers he can’t pass their vehicle if it has stickers, even ones that show school or team pride or a personal tribute.

“You’re not supposed to have any kind of stickers or things that are going to obstruct your view,” Yamauchi said. “Say you came with your car and had that, I would say, sorry, I cannot pass you, you going have to remove that sticker.”

“I don’t think it obstructs views,” said driver Matthew Pacopac. “I’ve been in cars like that and it doesn’t really bother me.”

KHON2 called other shop owners. Some say they will allow a small sticker as long as it doesn’t obstruct views, but Yamauchi says he doesn’t want to take any chances since shops that illegally pass vehicles could be fined.

But some drivers say they will take a chance and will continue to work around the new system, at least for now.

There are some exceptions. For example, government-issued or police-issued stickers are allowed in the corner of a windshield.

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