Just When You Thought the DMV Couldn't Get Any Worse

Arizona required emissions inspections of vehicles, but only for vehicles in the cities of Phoenix or Tucson.  So, as you can imagine, they only have testing stations in Phoenix and Tucson.

Our company is headquartered in Phoenix.  That is our legal address and the address on all our titles and registrations and licenses and such.  Because all of our vehicle registrations show the company headquartered in Phoenix, then the state of Arizona treats all our trucks as being located in Phoenix.  As a result, we are required to get emissions tests each year on about 20 vehicles.

But wait.  None of our vehicles are actually in Phoenix.  In fact, none have ever even crossed into this county.  They are all in places like Flagstaff and Sedona and Payson that have no emissions requirements, and therefore, no testing locations.  As a result, I am apparently required to, once a year, have all of our trucks driven to Phoenix for an emissions test that they are not actually required to have based on where they operate.  In additions to the cost of the test itself, and any repairs mandated by the test, it costs us 400 miles x $0.55 per mile gas and depreciation plus 8 hours x $12 hour labor for the driver or $316 per vehicle to get them to the test site and back.  A sort of annual pilgrimage to worship at the alter of mindless bureaucracy.

Recognize that none of this was obvious to me at 8AM this morning.  I spent my entire morning not worrying about my 500 employees and not improving productivity and not pursuing some projects we are considering for expanded customer services, but trying to figure this situation out.  All because some state legislators didn't realize that maybe corporate vehicle fleets are not necessarily registered in the location in which they are used.

I still think there must be a legal way to show my vehicle domiciled at one physical address but have the mailing address be my corporate office in Phoenix.  But if there is, I have not found anyone who will admit it.


  1. Scott:

    The reason they do this is that they are scared of the reverse: i.e. people with cars actually in Phoenix say they're parked elsewhere and don't have 'em tested.

    Which is exactly what happens in California. In Cali you can have your mailing address and residence address differ for all DMV (and voting) stuff. Protects movie stars, I guess, who don't need their home addresses on licenses, etc. But it really helps the kids with souped up Hondas in LA that are registered to a mail box in Kern County.

  2. mith:

    Sounds like a local business opportunity for anyone that wants to "rent" their address in Flagstaff, Sedona, or Payson as a registration holder.

  3. Ian Random:

    Well, the city of Phoenix is saying they don't want you to headquarter there. Is there any place outside the city boundary to relocate to?

  4. Zach:

    Couldn't you get a PO box or similar in a suburb and register the vehicles there? Not that the government should even force you to bear the costs of that but it seems cheaper than all that gas and labor.

  5. August:

    I wonder what happens with foreign owned businesses.
    If the company is domiciled in Ireland, but has trucks in Phoenix, who do they lean on to comply? Or do they even bother?

  6. Corky Boyd:

    There are many ways to skin a cat.

    What I would do is get in touch with the Arizona reprsentative or senator for your district. Most have one or two people who are constituent services specialists. Strange as it may seem, most legislators enjoy straightening out messes they created. They have a vested intrest in keeping your company in the state, where a bureaucrat only wants to keep his job by not creating waves.

    Try that first. No legal fees, no consultant fees and it might just work.

  7. Highway:

    Maryland gets around this issue by just requiring every vehicle in the state to be emissions tested (except, of course, the vehicles too old to have emission controls, which can happily pollute away!).

    Same problem with businesses that cross the state line, tho.

  8. Jim Hall:

    Move up to Flagstaff. You will have other irritating issues, but the DMV isn't one of them.

  9. M. Hodak:

    You forgot to mention the additional pollution that pilgrimage would create. I mean, that's what the emissions test was intended to reduce, right?

  10. ParatrooperJJ:

    Get a convenience address out of the city to receive mail. Solves the whole problem.

  11. john iii:

    Purchase a registered company in Nevada. Transfer all vehicle ownerships to that Nevada Company. Then lease those vehicles back to your companies for your use. Use the lease fees to pay the nevada corporate fees. Dividend out all extra earnings back to your original company. (Assuming your math is accurate, $316 per vehicle, with 20 vehicles, should net $6320 in costs. Anything less is a savings )

    Alternatively have the nevada corporation buy stocks and bonds for long term maintenance and replacement of said vehicles. The key is to ensure that at end of year, there is no taxable profits in the nevada corporation.

    Finally, Offer leasing services to other corporations operating under similar insanities. Profit.

    (You use Nevada, because Nevada incorporation laws are not required to supply the address of the owner of the company itself, nor any of its directors, thus preventing Pheonix from claiming jurisdiction)

  12. mahtso:

    It is the Department of Environmental Quality that administers this program, not DMV. But if you are not in compliance then DMV will not issue a vehicle registration. It is a crime to register your vehicle in another area in order to evade the testing requirement. Whether or not Coyote can legally register the vehicles in the places of principal use rather than the company headquarters I don't know. Vehicles that are in the last 5 model years are exempt from testing, so I'd recommend buying new cars!

    I think the program is a scam foisted on the State by the Feds.

  13. John III:

    Why is it a crime to register a vehicle in an another area to avoid the testing requirement, when it isnt illegal for the department to charge you to test vehicles that dont operate in the tested area? Isnt that extortion? Beside which, Im pretty sure that they would have a hard time enforcing that law. Corporations are perfectly within thier rights to register anywhere they are legally allowed. To enforce a rule like this would require federal intervention in corporate law. And that isnt likely to happen when corporations are the primary funder of federal election campaigns.

    They are using a database of registrations to police a policy that relies on the Presence of a vehicle. This is the problem. If they wanted to protect the environment locally, they would set up a system that tracks the actual vehicle, and not its paperwork. That alone leads me to believe that this is in fact a cash stream, and not an environmental concern for public officials. Like red light cameras. The cameras actually reduced drivers from running red lights, cutting revenues from fines, so they turned them off. Way to sell safety.

  14. mahtso:

    “Why is it a crime to register a vehicle in an another area to avoid the testing requirement, when it isnt illegal for the department to charge you to test vehicles that dont operate in the tested area? Isnt that extortion?”

    It is a crime because the State passed a law to make it a crime. As far as I know, there are two classes of vehicles that are subject to testing: (1) vehicles that are registered in certain geographic regions, regardless of where these are driven; and (2) some vehicles that are registered in other areas but are driven to the same geographic areas (i.e. John III’s method of protecting the local environment by tracking vehicles is in effect).

    Extortion? It sounds like every other law: you follow the law or we penalize you.

    “Corporations are perfectly within [their] rights to register anywhere they are legally allowed.” That appears to be a tautology, but nevertheless, some comments espoused plans such as registering at a PO Box to avoid the testing requirement, which I’d guess is not legal. Whether setting up another corporation in Nevada or any other state would be allowed, I have no idea. But I assume that such a scheme would come with its own set of problems and costs (including accounting costs.