The owners of some of the oldest cars and trucks in the state's two metro areas may get a small financial break, as may vehicle owners in most of the rest of the state.
A provision tucked into one of the budget bills would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer registrations that last for five years. Now, motorists can choose only between buying their registrations for one or two-year periods.
But that option would be available only to those whose vehicles are not subject to emissions testing. That eliminates all vehicles 1967 and newer owned by people in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.
The move could save a bit of money for everyone else.
That's because the Motor Vehicle Division charges an $8 registration fee on top of the vehicle license tax, a levy based on the value of the car or truck. Someone registering a vehicle every year pays that $8 fee annually, or $40 over five years; anyone who buys a 5-year registration would pay only $8.
Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said it also reduces the hassle factor for those who renew their registrations by going to MVD offices rather than doing it online.
But Pearce, who at one time was state MVD director, said the real savings would be for the agency in staff time.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the change helps the state deal with its financial troubles in another way: It encourages motorists to pay five years' worth of vehicle license taxes up front.
Overall, the change is expected to save the state $2.3 million.
Pearce said there is precedent for what he is doing: State law now allows the owners of small trailers to register them for life.
The reason that the owners of newer vehicles in the metro areas cannot participate has to do with air pollution: The state has agreed to test vehicles from 1967 and newer for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulates to keep both areas in compliance with federal air quality laws.
Those tests have to be conducted at least every two years. And vehicles must successfully pass those tests to be registered.
Limiting registration of these vehicles to two years ensures that their owners get the tests - and any necessary repairs - done.