Automobile emissions is air pollution produced by motor vehicles, especially internal combustion engines. The principal pollutant of concern is hydrocarbons, a class of burned and partially burned fuel, which is the major contributing factor to smog.

Prolonged exposure to hydrocarbons can lead to asthma, lung disease, liver disease, and even cancer. Automobile emissions also produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, and nitrogen oxide. These all release air pollutants that can cause environmental harm and respiratory problems.

Are There Regulations on Automobile Emissions?

Yes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages emission standards in the United States. Emission standards are the legal requirements that govern air pollutants that are released into the atmosphere.

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What Regulations Govern Automobile Emissions?

There are several federal regulations which govern automobile emissions. They are generally separated into two different categories: onroad vehicles and engines and nonroad vehicles and engine. Automobile emissions qualify as onroad vehicles.

The Clean Air Act is the United States federal law which controls air pollution. It was passed in 1963 and underwent amendments in 1970 and 1990. Among other things, it authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) which protects public health and public welfare by regulating emissions of hazardous air pollutants.

Pursuant to the Clean Air Act, vehicles manufactured in 1996 or later have their emissions checked with an onboard diagnostics test. Cars that fail the emission tests must undergo repairs to bring the car in compliance with federal emissions standards.

Some states, such as California, have even stricter standards, requiring a biennial smog inspection in order to renew registration. Smog inspections determine whether vehicles have excess emissions. Only vehicles without excess emissions or whose emissions are properly repaired will have their registration renewed.

What Happens If I Violate Auto Emission Standards?

Penalties for emission standards vary by state. In general, failing to have your vehicle inspected or driving a vehicle that did not pass inspection can result in hefty fines, citations, points on your driving record, license suspension, or registration suspension. Service stations that do not adhere to emission requirements may also face penalties, usually in the form of fines.

Should I Seek Legal Counsel for My Automobile Emission Problem?

If you have a problem or question concerning automobile emissions requirements, a knowledgeable traffic violation attorney in your area can explain your state’s laws and how they affect you.