“Free air” in the Town of Hempstead is now a reality for motorists as the Hempstead Town Board adopted legislation that prohibits gas stations within the township from charging for air to inflate car and truck tires. The new amendment also mandates that stations provide readily available free air, complete with pressure gauges. Supervisor Anthony J. Santino stated earlier this year that the new amendment became necessary due to the fact that numerous gas stations were circumventing a 1978 law that was put in place to ensure free air for drivers.
“This amendment will make sure motorists will receive all the air they need to ride smoothly and safely throughout our town,” said Santino. “This is just another step toward improving the quality of life in our town while also ensuring our laws are being followed. We expect no more excuses or evasive answers when motorists request air to properly inflate their tires.”
The new legislation amends a July 7, 1978 law that already required gas stations to provide free air for customers. However, a loophole in the ’78 law was exploited by many gas station owners. Specifically, the existing law did not prohibit charging for air as long as it was also free “upon request.” Accordingly, many owners did not make it clear that free air was available, and customers’ requests were met with excuses. Many air pumps promote the fee for air with little or no signage advising residents of a free air option.
The township will communicate with the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association (LIGRA) to ensure that local gas stations receive notice of the legislation. Residents who come across gas stations that continue to charge for air should report violations to the Town’s Building Department by calling (516) 801-5642. Hempstead Town Building Department summonses will be issued to violators.
“This legislation is a victory for motorists,” concluded Santino. “Providing free air for the people who patronize local gas stations is also good business. The new amendment ensures the safety of motorists and that gas stations do not circumvent the law to charge motorists for something that should be free of charge.”