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Appeals board set up for auto mechanics

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The Utah County Commission has set up an appeals board for auto mechanics who are cited for wrongly allowing cars to pass an emissions test.

The change in the county's emissions inspection and maintenance ordinance allows a station or mechanic who has received a violation notice to appeal to the new Inspection and Maintenance Appeal Board.The commission will appoint members to the board who do not work for the county health department, the agency that administers the program. The board will be required to consider the frequency of violations, whether they were unintentional or careless and the station's history based on periodic audits. The board will have the power to levy fines and suspensions.

"The purpose of the revision is to give the affected entity or person the ability for an independent review of his case so that he will have his fair `day in court,' " said Commissioner Jerry Grover. "It should also help separate any individuals who are willfully trying to get around the rules from those who fall into honest-mistake scenarios."

The county decided to amend the law after a shop owner complained earlier this year that he was treated harshly for a violation. A covert audit of his garage found that he passed a car that should have failed. The county didn't allow him to give emissions tests for a short time. The mechanic said the inaccurate test was an oversight, not an attempt to mislead.

Commissioners said creating the board goes beyond what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires to ensure emissions tests are performed correctly.

The commission intends to keep hearings before the board closed unless the station or mechanic requests it. Grover said it isn't appropriate to place businesses' confidential information, which can be part of the review process, in a public forum.