Understanding the STAR Program – It’s Not Important, Until it Is

According to the Bureau of Automotive Repair, the STAR Program is “The STAR Program is a certification program for both Test-Only and Test-and-Repair Smog Check stations that wish to certify directed and gross-polluting vehicles. STAR Test-and-Repair stations also must provide repair assistance services under BAR’s Consumer Assistance Program.”

Well, that is certainly true. The program was launched in 2013, and has been intended as an upgrade to the technology behind California SMOG check program. You, as a station owner or technician, probably feel that you are very familiar with the program. Indeed, you are probably doing smog checks to vehicles on a daily basis, and are very familiar with the technical equipment that is necessary to smog a car in California.

Experiences with California’s SMOG Check and STAR Programs

If, for example, you are a typical consumer, you might not be aware that you need to smog your car. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles will send out a courtesy notice to remind you that it’s time to pay for your registration, and every other year, it’s time to smog your car. If you fail to comply, you may even get a notice that you are not in compliance, or you may be pulled over by a police officer when your registration expires. At that point, the consumer may start to learn all sorts of unpleasant details about how the program works, up to and including very steep fines for not complying. It’s not important to understand all these details, until it is, in other words.

STAR Program

Photo credit: kevin dooley via Foter.com / CC BY

You, as a station owner or technician, may think that you are an expert, in comparison with the typical consumer who is just driving his car down the freeways of Los Angeles or San Diego. However, you may not realize, that there are many technical requirements that you face when doing smog checks, and if you happen to foul any of these up, you may be subject to some very steep fines, up to and including the loss of your license. Indeed, in some cases noncompliance can even become a criminal problem. In other words, the regulatory and legal requirements that you work under may not be something that you understand. They are not important, until they are.

Many clients come to us as they are searching for a Bureau of Automotive Repair attorney that can help them with the star program, after they have a problem. Others, have attempted to use the informal process vis-à-vis the Bureau of Automotive Repair, and it has not worked very well. You may be lucky, or you may be unlucky. If you are lucky, that’s great. If you are unlucky, you may find that what you did not think was important, such as a very thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements of the star program, was not important, until it was.

Consult with an Attorney


Whatever your situation, if you are a station owner or technician, and you have concerns vis-à-vis the STAR program, reach out to one of our attorneys for a consultation.

Photo credit: kevin dooley via Foter.com / CC BY


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