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Vehicle Inspection Unable-to-Tests, Failures and Re-tests

DC DMV provides vehicle inspection services to ensure District residents that vehicles producing high levels of pollutants are not registered and operated in the District. The DC DMV Inspection Station produces a report that will assist your mechanic in diagnosing and repairing any emission-related problems that are discovered.

DC DMV inspectors may determine that a vehicle is unfit for testing or that a vehicle fails the inspection. Vehicles that fail are eligible for re-inspection.

Unable- to-Tests

A DC DMV inspector may determine that he or she is unable to test your vehicle because it is dangerous, a hazard, or a health risk. Some reasons your vehicle may be unfit for testing are as follows:

  • The vehicle is smoking excessively.
  • There is visible damage, with audible leaking, to an exhaust.
  • The vehicle is leaking fluids (such as engine oil, transmission, coolant, brake) on the lane of the Inspection Station.
  • The vehicle’s tires appear unsafe.
  • There are no brakes on the vehicle and/or inoperable parking brakes on a front wheel drive vehicle.
  • The red engine light is on.


If your vehicle fails the initial or renewal inspection, inspectors will place a "failed inspection" sticker on the vehicle. The failed inspection sticker gives you 20 calendar days to fix the vehicle so that it passes - and to get it re-inspected. DC DMV inspectors will give you a report listing the items that failed inspection. Direct any questions or problems you have to a resolution coordinator at the Inspection Station.

Note: If your vehicle cannot pass the emission test, you can receive a two-year waiver from the emission inspection by presenting receipts for $1,100.00 in emission repairs from a certified mechanic to DC DMV.

Your vehicle must pass inspection before it can be registered. You can find out more information on common causes of inspection failure for personal, commercial, and for-hire vehicles at the links below:


If your vehicle fails the initial or the renewal inspection, inspectors will give you a report detailing the issues that caused it to fail. You must re-inspect the vehicle within 20 calendar days of the failure notice.

You are eligible for two free re-inspections during the 20-day period after failing an inspection. You will be charged for a third re-inspection within the 20-day period or for re-inspection after the 20-day period.

If you do not get your vehicle re-inspected within the allotted 20 calendar days, you will have to pay an inspection late fee. All inspection fees, including late and re-inspection fees, must be paid when the vehicle's registration is renewed. Information on DC DMV fees is available at the link below:

When your vehicle passes re-inspection, it will receive an inspection sticker valid for 2 years from the date of re-inspection.

Note: Please try to bring your inspection renewal notice with you, as it speeds up the process.

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