This is pretty near the top when it comes to police chickenshit. Fortunately the law cannot be applied in this manner in many jurisdictions. In Virginia the police can cite a parked vehicle when they observe equipment, inspection of registration violations.
Here is the scam, Fairfax, Virginia police, in the form of a meter maid cruise auto repair shops many of which are also state inspection stations. Upon finding vehicles with expired inspection stickers, issue the vehicles citations. (I have visions of the meter maid standing at the front of the car writing a citation, while the inspector is checking the brake lights at the rear of the car.) These vehicles are not on a public street and in many instances are minutes away from being in compliance, as soon as the repair shop does the inspection.
A shop owner took exception to the practice and got in a confrontation with a meter maid. He touched her, maybe pushed her. She arrested him for assaulting a peace officer. The municipal court accepted the charge and found the shop owner guilty. The shop owner was wrong, but not as far as wrong as Fairfax County was. Meter maids are not peace officers, the charge was improper. The court or prosecutor could have modified the charge to a simple assault but apparently did not.
State inspection programs are designed to ensure that vehicles on the roads meet certain minimum safety standards. An expired state inspection simply means that the vehicle has not been through an annual inspection, not that it cannot pass. Since these vehicles are parked at an inspection station awaiting their turn in the inspection process, it would seem to me that the drivers have demonstrated their intent to comply and the only barrier to compliance at the moment the meter maid shows up, is time. This scam is not about obtaining compliance, it is cash on the barrel head extortion.
I don’t have a problem with chasing down “free range” inspection violators, those driving around in un-inspected vehicles because they forgot, or meant to do it. But ticketing vehicles in-line for inspection, that does nothing but build well deserved contempt for the agency and officer that pursues such a course.