Green Vehicle Laws and Regulations in New York
New York enlists numerous laws specific to green vehicles and eco-friendly driving. These include emissions testing (and exemptions for electric vehicles), alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) conversion requirements, idling restrictions, and driving access for truckers on the George Washington Bridge. For full details on NY's green vehicle laws, keep reading.
New York Emissions Testing for Green Vehicles
New York requires all vehicles to undergo an annual safety inspection that often gets paired with an emissions inspection—both of which are administered through the New York Vehicle Inspection Program (NYVIP2). However, some vehicles are exempt. Read on for details.
If your vehicle must undergo an emissions test, find the nearest inspection station using our locator widget at the bottom of this page.
Emissions Test Exemptions
NYVIP2 exempts electric-powered vehicles from the on-board diagnostic system (OBDII) and low-enhanced emissions inspections. If you don't drive an electric car, but your vehicle falls under the category of OBDII emissions testing exempt automobiles (such as new cars fewer than 2 model years) it's likely subject to a low-enhanced emissions inspection.
Diesel-Powered Vehicle Emissions Testing
Emissions inspection requirements differ depending on whether you've registered your diesel vehicle within the Diesel Emissions Metropolitan Area (DEMA). DEMA includes:
- New York City.
- Nassau County.
- Suffolk County.
- Rockland County.
- Westchester County.
For example, certain diesel-powered vehicles registered outside of DEMA are exempt from the annual diesel emissions inspection, but still may be required to undergo a random roadside diesel emissions inspection. Get the full scoop on diesel emissions inspections through the NY Department of Motor Vehicles.
Alternative Fuel System Conversions Standards
New York adopted and implemented California's low-emission vehicle program standards which address aftermarket conversions to alternative fuel vehicles. Simply put, vehicles originally certified by either the California Air Resources Board (CARB) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), must only undergo CARB-certified and EPA-certified alternative fuel system conversions, respectively. These agencies typically certify fuel system conversions for specific makes, models (or engine families), and model years.
Ignoring this requirement may result in hefty fines. For example, if you “engine switch" to one of the following, you could be penalized for tampering with an emissions control device:
- An older engine configuration.
- A different fuel type (ex: replacing a gasoline engine with one powered by diesel or biodiesel fuel).
- The engine of a different make or model.
Potentially illegal conversions also include vegetable oil or grease car conversions and hybrid electric to plug-in hybrid electric conversions. For more on restrictions, penalties, and requirements, check out the Fact Sheet for Alternative Fuel System Conversions.
Low-Speed Vehicle Criteria
New York defines a low-speed vehicle as a limited use automobile or truck that:
- Can travel at a speed greater than 20 MPH, but fewer than 25 MPH.
- Has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of fewer than 3,000 lbs.
- Complies with the safety standards listed under Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500.
Registration and licensing requirements for operating a low-speed might vary. For example, this includes limited-use motorcycles—often called mopeds—which have specific traffic and operating restrictions, insurance requirements, and equipment standards. For more on regulations specific to your low-speed vehicle, consult the NY DMV.
NY Heavy-Duty Vehicle Idling Restrictions
You may not allow (or permit) a heavy-duty vehicle to idle its engine for more than 5 minutes when not in motion if you:
- Own, operate, or lease it.
- Own, lease, or occupy the land where it is present (given that you also have control over how the heavy-duty vehicle is operated).
The above restrictions apply to all on-road heavy-duty vehicles powered by engines that run on diesel and non-diesel fuels. This includes buses or trucks, but not marine vessels. By definition, heavy-duty vehicles have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 8,500 lbs., and are primarily designed to transport people and property. If you are caught violating the idling restrictions you will pay a fine of $500 to $18,000 for a first violation.
Some exceptions include:
- Traffic conditions out of your control that render your heavy-duty vehicle motionless.
- During roadside diesel emissions inspections.
- Electric-powered vehicles.
- Hybrid-electric vehicles idling to provide for energy storage recharging.
For a full list of exceptions and requirements, consult the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Regulations (Chapter III, Subpart 217-3).
Tunnel and Bridge Laws for Truckers
Truckers on New York roads must follow certain laws when driving vehicles powered by alternative fuels. Continue reading for more on AFV restrictions and allowances regarding the tunnels and lower level of the George Washington Bridge. For even more alternative fuel vehicle info, check out the Truckers' Resources page.
Tunnel and Bridge Restrictions
You may not take the following vehicles through the tunnels and the lower level of the George Washington Bridge:
- Vehicles that use compressed flammable gases—with the exception of compressed natural gases (used to fuel heaters or refrigeration elements) such as:
- Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
- Vehicles that use anything other than the following to power their propulsion engines:
- Diesel fuel.
- Compressed natural gas (CNG).
- Liquefied natural gas (LNG).
- Liquefied petroleum gas.
Tunnel and Bridge Allowances
Alternative fuel vehicles powered by LPG, LNG, or CNG, may use the tunnels and lower level of the George Washington Bridge, provided that they have:
- A manufacturer-installed dedicated alternate fuel system, or
- A properly converted alternate fuel system.
- An alternate fuel system compliant with applicable federal regulations including 40CFR85, 86, and 600; Consult the Traffic Rules and Regulations published by the Port Authority of NY & NJ for full regulation details.
- A fuel capacity that doesn't exceed 150 lbs. net weight of fuel.
- Markings and symbols that identify the alternate-fuel system (as required by law).
NY Restrictions for Idling on School Grounds
School bus drivers must abide by certain idle-reduction regulations when parked on school grounds or in the front of any school in school districts that that the commissioner has either identified as having a significant number of asthmatic children or appropriate for such restrictions. The same goes for drivers of any other vehicles owned or leased by the school district.
For example, school bus drivers must turn off their engines while waiting for children to get on or off the bus. However, a few exceptions exist. Idling is permitted when:
- It's necessary to heat the vehicle.
- Mechanical issues arise.
- Faced with an emergency situation.
These exceptions may not occur in violation of any state or local laws.
Keep Up with Current New York Green Vehicle Laws
These laws and related green driver incentives are subject to change. Refer to this page as well as your local New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch and the Alternative Fuels Data Center for the latest.
Find a Nearby New York Emissions Testing Station
Locate the closest NY smog and emissions testing station with the widget below: