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Defective DMV inspection stickers refuse to stick

October 14, Melville: Close up of registration and

October 14, Melville: Close up of registration and inspection stickers on a car for a story about the glue used on them. (October 14, 2009) Newsday Photo / Karen Wiles Stabile Credit: Newsday/Newsday Photo / Karen Wiles Stab

One sticker curled into a shape of a taco. Another clung to the glass by a lone corner, while some weren't there at all.

Glancing at car windshields on Long Island roads, it's easy to see why the state Department of Motor Vehicles is seeking to replace millions of defective 2010 vehicle registration and inspection stickers.

"They can send somebody to the moon, but they can't put good glue on stickers," said Mineola mechanic Chino Gonzalez.

Gonzalez would know. Clear tape is now one of the tools of his trade: He often needs it to secure brand new inspection stickers after he's inspected cars.

"They're all coming off," Gonzalez said.

The DMV, its field officers and inspection stations have received numerous complaints about stickers that don't stick. The DMV also discovered in routine tests that some stickers have "inadequate adhesive," said DMV spokesman Ken Brown.

While announcing in May that some 2010 stickers come unglued, DMV Commissioner Jackie McGinnis suggested drivers "affix any defective sticker to the vehicle with transparent tape or other adhesive."

Not only does Everette Simmons use tape on the registration sticker on his personal car, but tape is needed to keep the sticker in place on the van he drives for All Island Taxi.

"I have to put tape on because it peels off too quick," said Simmons, 66, of Uniondale.

Securing faulty stickers so they won't fall from view means avoiding costly fines. For example, the penalty for no inspection sticker can be between $50 and $100, with a surcharge of $55 and other fees, the DMV said.

The DMV said it notified law enforcement agencies and asked them to be lenient about loose stickers or ones that have to be taped.

Suffolk police said they were aware of the problem, but were not notified directly by DMV.

Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone said the Nassau County Police's patrol unit hasn't received word from DMV. He said motorists making an honest effort to properly display troubled stickers shouldn't worry.

"Common sense should prevail, and we have discretionary authority when it comes to issuing tickets," Repalone said. He added he has to use tape to secure vehicle stickers on his personal car.

The DMV issues about 9 million registration stickers each year. It said it has identified about 2 million with a potential sticking problem. Of the 13.4 million inspection stickers ordered, more than 5 million were considered defective, the agency said.

Two separate Chicago-based companies provide the state with the stickers. RR Donnelley supplied registration stickers at a cost of $1 million as part of a two-year contract, which expires in 2011.

SecureMark Decal had a contract for reportedly $660,000 for inspection stickers for 2009 and 2010.

The DMV is negotiating restitution from RR Donnelley. Company president Thomas Quinlan didn't return a message Wednesday seeking comment.

SecureMark agreed to replace 1.4 million stickers at no cost, the DMV confirmed. SecureMark manager Jim Chmura said, "We are cooperating with the DMV."

Vinnie Pilch, 44, of Lake Grove, didn't know what all the fuss over stickers that don't stick was about.

He examined the perfectly stuck 2010 inspection sticker on his pickup truck Wednesday and said, "No, nothing yet."

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