AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is cracking down on fraudulent vehicle inspections and inspectors through an operation it launched in August 2022 called “Operation Cinderblock”. This regulatory and criminal operation focuses on vehicle inspection stations and inspectors who were potentially “clean scanning” vehicles instead of conducting the required emissions test during the inspection process.
Clean scanning is the illegal act of a vehicle inspector that results in a fraudulent “pass” for a vehicle’s emissions test. The fraudulent test involves performing the emissions test on a different vehicle or using a simulator, which then bypasses actual emissions testing of the vehicle being inspected.
Originally, DPS identified approximately 270 vehicle inspection stations as having a high volume of questionable inspections indicating clean scan violations had likely occurred over a recent time-period. Of those, 34 stations had gross misconduct and DPS quickly served administrative action notices. The notices informed the station owners and inspectors that the department was taking immediate action on their license ranging from a 12-month suspension to a lifetime revocation depending on prior enforcement history. This action effectively disabled the ability for those offenders to log in to the system and continue conducting inspections. DPS quickly continued enforcement efforts and focused on the remaining 236 stations and associated individual inspectors.
To date, the department has suspended or revoked 412 vehicle inspection stations and 532 inspectors as part of Operation Cinderblock. Some cases are also being investigated for criminal offenses.
DPS is increasing enforcement action over the next 60 days, working in partnership with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), and processing is underway to remove 135 additional inspectors from the program. The department anticipates removing approximately 700 more inspectors by mid-April. DPS will then take action against the station licenses at these inspection locations where the violations took place.
Operation Cinderblock is an ongoing operation to combat the problem of clean scanning across the state of Texas. Additional actions are likely as the operation continues.
Vehicle emissions inspections are currently required in 17 Texas counties to improve air quality and are integrated with the annual safety inspection program, regulated by DPS in conjunction with TCEQ. The department licenses over 5,500 emissions inspection stations and more than 19,400 inspectors in those counties.
### (HQ 2023-017)