Car registration postcard confuses Bernalillo County drivers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Car registration renewals are getting more confusing and now, drivers are getting penalized for it.

Drivers say a Motor Vehicle Department postcard does not show any signs of needing to get an emissions test. However, when they try to register their car, they get fined for not getting it done.

“There’s nothing on the registration that says you need an emissions test so now they’re confused because over all these years, there’s been a notification on the registration, now there’s not,” said Greg Howland, owner of FasTest Emissions.postcard

Some drivers are assuming without the notification, an emissions test isn’t needed. Once they try and renew their registration, they’re hit with a fine and their car registration is suspended because the test wasn’t done. That extra fee starts at $30. Howland says he sees around ten people a week with this issue, and they’re not happy.

“They’re not sure if they need one or not. So a lot of people are voiding the letter, and now finding out that they’ve suspended their registration, and having them pay an extra fee on top of the fee they already paid,” says Howland.

In Bernalillo County, drivers are required to get an emissions test every two years for cars newer than 1982. The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division says this is an issue with the new system. It will send out a separate notice letting drivers know their emissions has expired, but they admitted some notices were not sent out correctly, resulting in people getting fined.

But Howland says the solution is simple.

“Just put in big red letters: ’emission test required.’ That way, no one is going to screw up, they’ll know what to do.”

MVD says it will be working on correcting the issue and giving people refunds for the fees.

Along with emissions tests every two years, all cars need one with every change of ownership. MVD says drivers should keep track of when the tests are needed. The only vehicles exempt from this are electric and diesel vehicles. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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