Nearly 21,000 cars and light trucks, that ought to have failed, were given passing grades by dozens of auto repairs shops in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County.
Officials with the State Department of Environmental Conservation said they have issued citations to 40 of approximately 3,500 inspection sites in the region for granting inspection certificates for vehicles that were not tested.
To pass the annual state emissions inspection, a car or truck is connected to a machine that checks the vehicle’s computerized emissions control system and sends the information to the State Department of Motor Vehicles. The repair shops and service stations that were cited attached the inspection equipment to an electronic device that simulated the test.
The emissions testing is part of a program instituted in 2005 that seeks to keep tailpipe gases and other pollution within regulated standards by checking that a vehicle’s emissions monitoring computer system is in good working order.
State officials say this is the first time they had encountered electronic devices simulating the inspections since the program, for vehicles manufactured in 1996 or later, started. Earlier testing monitored emissions directly from the tailpipe.
The emissions test costs $37, repairs to the vehicles that fail the test can cost much more.
Investigators for the Department of Motor Vehicles flagged 20,773 cases of fraudulent inspections from March 2008 to September 2009 at 27 sites in the Bronx, 4 in Manhattan, 4 in Suffolk County, 3 in Nassau County and 1 each in Westchester County and Brooklyn.
The stations face potential fines of $375 to $15,000 for the first offense and up to $22,500 for each ensuing offence.