What to do after “a mistake at the DC DMV Inspection Station that is prohibiting me from renewing my (now expired) vehicle registration.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Josh Bassett

“Dear PoPville,

On Saturday, I went to the DC DMV Inspection Station on Half Street to have my vehicle inspected. My car passed the inspection but it seems the inspector did not write down the correct VIN, which means my car’s inspection is not in the DMV’s system and I’m unable to renew my car’s (now expired) registration. Absent returning to the Inspection Station, does anyone have advice that could help remedy the error? I called the DMV, which directed me to call the Inspection Station, but no one picked up. I registered a request for help via the 311 website and emailed [email protected], but have not received anything other than an automated response.”

21 Comment

  • PDleftMtP

    Go back to the inspection station. DC is not a good place to try to do things by remote control and without human interaction. People often will go out of their way to help you if you’re there in person and friendly, but you can put in 311 requests from now until doomsday just to see them marked “resolved” with no action.

    • PDleftMtP

      The people at the inspection station are also very helpful. I had my inspection sticker stolen (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and they believed me, took care of it, and helped me wipe out the ticket I’d gotten.

  • A few years ago I had an issue with the odometer reading on my car. It was at 52k miles but when I went for my inspection they marked it as 25k. I was trying to sell my car at the time so carfax started showing my car as having a tampered odometer. I went to the dmv to correct this issue but to no avail. In the end, I just went back to the inspection center to have them correct the original paperwork. I just went into the office, spoke to the guy there and he had it cleared up in a matter of minutes. If you’re just having an issue with the VIN, I would go there and speak to them. They should be able to update their records pretty quickly. I know the reputation for the dmv is pretty bad, but I found the folks at the inspection center to be very helpful.
    Make sure to bring all your paperwork to help support the VIN number in case they need it and can’t just verify by looking at the car.

  • This happened to me a few years ago, but they caught it at the DMV before they let me proceed with anything else. They just made me go back to the Inspector’s station and print a new one. Apparently it’s a common mistake. You’re just gonna have to go back.

  • A few years ago I had a different issue (DMV said I was male on my new license, I was female) and I wanted to correct it without going back and waiting 6 hours again. I called and emailed to no avail, but then I noticed that the DMV had a Twitter account so I tweeted them and they were fantastically responsive and fixed the issue immediately without me having to go back. Might not work here since the inspection station is involved, but it could be worth trying.

    • I’ve never had to wait more than 20 mins at the DMV. One time, I was called up before I was even done filling out the paperwork.

      • Which DMV do you got and when? I got to the DMV last year when it was 15 degrees an hour before they opened on a saturday, and was behind 16 people in line. Once I got inside I waited about 35 minutes, but was put into the wrong queue and had to wait another 30 minutes when they put me at the back of the correct one. This was all at the SW location, though.

        • I like Rhode island on weekdays. I got there the other day shortly after opening and I was the next number called. I was just getting a parking permit that could change things I’m sure.

          • Seriously- go midday on a weekday if you can take a long lunch. You can also go online to see the number of people waiting to make sure you aren’t showing up when it’s busy. I also recommend going the day before a major holiday- I got my license renewed in under 20 minutes one year the day before Thanksgiving.

          • That’s helpful. I don’t have the ability to run out to get a sandwich at “lunch” so I’m assuming a trip to Rhode Island Ave from downtown is out of the question haha. My husband went the morning after Halloween last year in the rain and was in and out.

          • Another vote for Rhode Island on a weekday. I’ve never waited more than 20 minutes and have also been called up multiple times before filling everything out.

      • Really depends on the location and day. I’ve waited 2 hrs and 5 minutes before.

  • the DC DMV twitter account is actually incredibly responsive.

  • I am surprised you haven’t gotten a 311 response. When we moved to DC earlier this year and got our drivers licenses, mine had the address spelled wrong and my husbands said he is not an organ donor when indeed he is. I submitted a 311 request and received corrected DLs within the week.

  • Allison

    It sucks, but the fastest way to fix this is to return to the station with your vehicle so they can verify and re-enter it into the system.

  • I had something similar happen to me, the people that work at the inspection office are very friendly. If you cannot get help from them I would advise contacting your council member. I had to be persistent when contacting Mary Cheh but my issue was finally resolved.

  • VIN numbers are long and small and a pain to copy. It surprises me that they are still copying them by hand, rather than having a scanner to scan them in. What century are we in?
    Glad to know I should check my VIN number next time before I leave the inspection station.

  • Just commenting to add that I’ve also had great experiences at both the inspection center and DMV offices. Resolving this issue should be easy if you are willing/able to return in person.

  • Thanks so much for the comments and recommendations. Sounds like the best way forward is another trip to Half Street. Thanks, all. – Original Poster

  • Josh,

    We are happy to help in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services (MOCRS). You can reach out to me directly if you live in Ward 1. If not, just call 202-442-8150 for the front desk. We have an excellent team and we all love working to perfect DC Government.

    Ben Case
    Ward 1 Outreach and Service Specialist
    Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services
    Executive Office of the Mayor
    Cell-202.285.9238 / Desk-202-545-3103
    [email protected]
    Follow me on twitter: @benkcase

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