Can a Felon Become a Motor Vehicle Inspector?

Felons hoping to secure a job after release from prison have many options to consider. There are many jobs that hire felons without any prior experience. However, many individuals wish to get a job that they are passionate about and don’t want to simply settle for the first job that come their way.

For individuals interested in the automotive industry, the options are essentially limitless. Felons are widely accepted as vehicle mechanics, automotive assemblers, small engine mechanics, and various other positions across the industry. These jobs are often fairly receptive of felons, providing that they work hard and prove themselves just like everybody else.

There are only a handful of jobs in the automotive industry, however, that offer government benefits. One of the primary positions that combine automotive work and government job security is a state motor vehicle inspector.

What is a State Motor Vehicle Inspector?

A state motor vehicle inspector is responsible for evaluating the safety of all vehicles driving on public roads. This can include cars, big rigs, and motorcycles. These individuals provide an integral service that keeps public roads safe and free of defective vehicles.

Motor vehicle inspectors are also responsible for performing VIN inspections on vehicles. A VIN is a unique series of numbers and letters that identifies a car to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This VIN can be used to determine a vehicle’s past, including whether or not the vehicle is stolen.

Motor vehicle inspectors are expected to keep society safe while on the road. This will be rewarding for felons, especially because they, at one time, had been deemed detractors from society.

Because each state employs their own motor vehicle inspectors, the job requirements vary by location. However, all employees have access to the government insurance and

So, what are the steps that a felon can take to become a motor vehicle inspector?

Becoming a State Motor Vehicle Inspector

First off, an individual must meet the age requirements of their particular state. Some states, like New York allow teens as young as 17 to apply[1]. Texas requires their inspectors to be 18, and Connecticut is all the way at 21. [2],[3] Because of the substantial difference between states, individuals considering applying should check their specific state age laws.

Applicants must also need a valid drivers license. This license cannot be suspended or revoked[4].

In many states, the applicant will also need a license for the particular type of vehicle they are inspecting. For instance, if an individual wants to inspect motorcycles, they will need a motorcycle license.[5] In other states, however, the applicant will simply need documented practical or professional knowledge of the vehicle type that they will be inspecting[6]. Again, it is important for applicants to research their particular state’s requirements.

Determining the Scope of the Position

After determining eligibility, a felon will need to decide what kind of vehicle inspector they would like to become. An individual with trucking experience should look into becoming a commercial vehicle inspector. Someone who has an affinity for motorcycles may want to look into becoming a motorcycle examiner.

This decision does not have to be made immediately. An individual can start their career inspecting regular automobiles and decide to switch later. This prior experience will make it easier to become an inspector in their desired specialty.

This also involves searching for a location where they have the best chance of gaining a job as an inspector. For example, a Los Angeles based location will have more openings than say, a Little Rock, Arkansas location. It isn’t always feasible for individuals to move for a job, but it should be taken into consideration.

Landing the Interview

Beyond these initial requirements, there is still the process of actually getting an interview. This process is always daunting for felons, as they have likely become accustomed to being turned away from jobs because of their background. However, this position places an emphasis on relevant background as opposed to criminal background. If an individual has sufficient experience in the automotive industry, many states will be able to see beyond their criminal past. The recommended amount of experience is roughly 5 years in a related field.[7] This is simply a recommendation, not a requirement. In any case, however, the more experience, the better.

There are, unfortunately, exceptions. Some states have legislature in place that disallows certain felons from becoming a state vehicle inspector for a certain amount of time after sentencing. These crimes include arson, robbery, bribery, and other serious crimes.[8] From the date of these crimes, there is typically a 10-year period during which an individual is ineligible to become a vehicle inspector[9].

After passage of an interview, candidates will need to complete a state-specific inspector training course. This course will provide an overview of the job responsibilities and detail what is expected of the candidate. This is typically performed by a third-party rather than the government entity itself.

Passing the Test

A written examination will follow the training course in most states. Some states combine the two, but almost all have some type of written exam. This exam is based on knowledge learned in the course, as well as any other relevant information that is expected to be known by the candidate. This is fairly broad, as the automotive industry covers many enterprises, so it is important to study up on weak spots in an individual’s repertoire.

Some states will follow this written test with a practical exam. This will include performing expected job duties under the supervision of a trained motor vehicle inspector[10]. This can be scary, but it’s also the last step! After this is completed, an individua will be a certified motor vehicle inspector.


A state vehicle inspector has a lot of responsibility that comes with their position. Those simply looking for a paycheck may not be able to sustain the training and testing required to become an inspector. Those, however, with drive and passion for all things automotive will find the journey to be well-rewarding.

Felons, especially, will find solace in this job. They will have a government position and all of the benefits that come along with it. They will also be able to contribute to a society that they had once been charged with operating against. Not only that, but those felons with in interest in cars, trucks, and motorcycles will be able to realize their passion every day at work.









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