Are drivers getting a sweet deal with Nevada's classic vehicle license plates?

The state of Nevada does not require an emissions test for cars that have classic vehicle plates and do not drive more than 5,000 miles each year (SBG)

Classic cars are right at home in Northern Nevada. The state even gives them a deal if they meet certain standards. But some of those vehicle owners are lying to the state and getting a sweet deal in return.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles allows drivers to pay $10 a year for a classic vehicle license plate, after the initial $37 fee. And if the person drives fewer than 5,000 miles they don’t have to get an emissions test.

More than 31,000 people have classic plates. That’s 10 times the amount that was registered a decade ago.

You see the rusted, dented, paint-peeling vehicles driving around town with classic vehicle license plates. They can get the same state deal as the true classic vehicles, even when some of their drivers ignore the law.

Dave Vance drives a 1975 Chevy pickup "every day,” he told News 4.

His pickup truck was parked outside an apartment complex in Reno. The next day it was across town off N. McCarran Boulevard. Vance admitted he doesn’t drive it less than 5,000 miles.

“Probably not,” he said.

But he tells the DMV that he puts only a few miles on the truck. He said the state doesn’t check.

“Not all the time,” Vance said.

The intent of the law was to allow the true classics to get a break because the vehicles either may not be able to pass the emission test or they aren't big pollution contributors because they're not on the road that often.

“Some of these vehicles have been modified and modified to the point where they may not be able to pass the emissions test. The vehicles that were in the garage the majority of the time, they're not polluting,” said Glenn Smith, the Supervising Emissions Control Officer for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

But the DMV doesn't physically inspect odometers to verify if drivers are being truthful.

"They write it down, it's an honor system. And that's recorded when they register it, and the following year they have to fill out the odometer statement and we subtract the miles from the previous year," said Smith.

A Sun Valley man admitted he drives is 1989 Nissan for work every day. The state hasn’t double-checked his mileage, so he’s able to continue to drive with the classic plate without getting emission tests.

But some classic vehicles are like George Trigilo’s 1994 Honda. He’s been restoring for five years.

“I've restored it, pretty much everything on the car, everything itself has been altered except the frame itself,” he said.

Trigilo’s plate is legal as long as he drives fewer than 5,000 miles.

The state knows that some people lie about their mileage. If they’re caught fudging an odometer reading, the state will require an emissions test and the plate could be taken away. The DMV could also impose a fine, but to date in Washoe County the state said that’s never been done.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off