New Orleans drivers to get 2-year brake tags, with easy-to-see expiration dates _lowres

The City of New Orleans unveiled a new vehicle inspection certificate design on Dec. 30. The new certificates, commonly called brake tags, will be available to drivers on Jan. 18.

Redesigned brake tags, available to New Orleans drivers in January, might make it easier for police to spot expiration dates — a potential problem for drivers who do not keep their brake tags current.

However, the new tags also will be valid for up to two years, a change that should provide a reprieve for drivers sick of the annual ritual.

City officials announced the new rules and design for vehicle inspection certificates, commonly called brake tags, on Wednesday. The City Council approved the two-year brake tag option in October.

The changes “are intended to increase convenience to the motoring public and increase efficiency in the administration of the program,” officials said.

The new design places the brake tag’s expiration year in bold print in the tag’s center and the expiration month — along with other months of the year — in smaller print, circling the center. That’s a change from the old design, which featured the numbered expiration month prominently in the tag’s center and the expiration year in tiny print near the top of the tag.

The old tags also were issued in multiple colors during any given year. The new tags instead will be issued in one color all year long.

A one-year tag will cost $25 for a vehicle that is less than 10 years old and that weighs 6,000 pounds or less, while a two-year tag will cost $50 for that vehicle.

The move to two-year tags puts New Orleans in line with the rest of the state. While the city administers its own vehicle inspection program and up until now issued a one-year tag with a unique design, drivers in parishes that issue standard Louisiana inspection tags have had the option of buying two-year tags since 2012. Similarly, state inspection tags usually show the expiration year and month more prominently than the New Orleans tags did.

New Orleans, Kenner and Westwego all run independent brake tag inspection programs because their programs predate that of the state, which was established in 1960.

Fines for brake tag violations remain the same: Drivers must pay $202.50 if police cite them for expired brake tags, and they must appear in court if police cite them for fraudulent brake tag use.

Revamped and two-year brake tags will be available beginning Jan. 18. However, an older brake tag expiring in January remains effective until Jan. 31, regardless of the date indicated on the sticker. Drivers with tags expiring at later dates may continue to use those tags until they expire.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.