HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some people with souped-up rides are driving illegally due to a permit backlog. Owners have been waiting up to two and a half months for an appointment to have their modified vehicles inspected. A reconstructed vehicle permit is needed to obtain a safety check sticker. The new safety inspection system that started several months ago is now making it tougher for drivers to skip that step.
Jason Antonio had been driving illegally since January when his safety inspection check expired. He tried to get a new sticker, but was told his modified Honda Civic required a reconstruction permit first. He said he waited nearly three months for his appointment at the reconstruction inspection station on Oahu.
"I thought, 'Why?' and I could understand because it was backed up and all that, but it is what it is. I just gotta wait," said the Waialua resident. "I just kind of had to dodge the cops. Run 'em hard as they say."
Richae Baqui only had to wait a month for her slot.
"I got lucky. Someone canceled so I'm actually lucky with that one. I'm not too sure how long I would have waited, said the Wahiawa resident.
The city issued an average of 140 permits a month before the revamped safety inspection program started in November. The figure more than doubled to 290 in January. According to city officials, more drivers are coming in now that safety inspectors are connected to an electronic system that makes it tougher to just pass anyone.
"Nothing changed, just the procedure and the strictness of getting a safety check now. There are a lot more audits in place," explained acting licensing administrator Preston Ko.
The city used to have just one or two workers at the recon inspection station. Employees have been brought in to help ease the wait.
"We just added 2 regulars and sometimes the supervisor will help out, so we'll have five at most at times. We just started adding them about three weeks ago," said Ko.
"They need to make the system easier so we're able to comply with the law," Baqui said.
With the additional inspectors, the wait has now been reduced to about six weeks. Ko hopes to return the reassigned workers to their original posts in a few weeks once the backlog is gone.
Drivers are encouraged to put their name on a wait list in case a spot opens up sooner due to a cancellation.