By JESSIE HORTON
ERATH COUNTY (March 30, 2015) — Trailer owners in Texas beware! When you receive notice to have your travel trailer, boat trailer or utility trailer registered this year, don’t be surprised if your trailer falls under an often violated and overlooked law.
According to Erath County Tax Assessor/Collector, Jennifer Carey, many residents who have these types of trailers have been unknowingly violating a Texas law that requires many trailers on the road to have inspections like a car or pickup would. She said this year, before they will be issued registration stickers for those trailers, the trailer will have to pass a safety inspection at a state-certified vehicle inspection station. Inspection must occur within 90 days of registration.
“Some trailer owners haven’t been aware of the safety inspection requirement,” Carey said. “I’ve been talking to various trailer owners, and some have been handling that for years while others had no idea. But we are working to inform all the owners of trailers in need of inspection in their notices so they aren’t surprised when they come into the office here.”
The law has been in place for decades and requires an annual safety inspection of trailers with a gross weight )weight of the trailer, plus its caring capacity or actual load) of more than 4,500 pounds. That includes travel trailers, most dual-axle boat trailers and many larger utility trailers like the ones used to haul tractors, ATVs and other hunting equipment.
Because owners did not previously need the inspection to register the trailer or the registration to get the inspection on the trailer, there was no way for Carey’s office to know if the trailers were being inspected. However, now that inspections and registration are combined, Carey’s office will be able to identify if the inspection has been done. In fact, now it’s a necessity.
Under a law passed in 2013 by the Texas Legislature, annual vehicle safety inspection requirements will remain the same, but certification stickers will no longer be issued for the inspection. Now, inspection stations will send electronic notification to the tax office that the vehicle or trailer has passed inspection. The tax office will then issue one sticker with the vehicle or trailer registration to be placed in the designated areas.
While most of the state’s 11,000 certified inspection stations are certified to inspect trailers, some are not due to limited space and other issues. A searchable database of Texas vehicle inspection stations is available on the Texas Department of Public safety’s website at dps.texas.gov.
Since the registration sticker will be on the trailer’s license plate, law enforcement officers will be able to tell at a glance if the trailer is legal. Tom Vinger, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson, said the department expects that with the new requirements, they will see an increase in compliance in terms of inspections for these types of trailers, as well as all other types of vehicles.
“It’s pretty easy,” said Carey. “As of March 1, everyone who needs to register a non-farm trailer that has a gross weight of 4,501 pounds or higher, has to have a valid inspection. My office will not issue registrations for those trailers without it. We simply can’t do it.”