Previously, we wrote about what happens when you drive without renewing your vehicle registration in California. But what about if you drive with an up-to-date registration but simply forgot to place the tags (the stickers you get along with your renewed registration) on your license plate, or they haven’t arrived yet?
If you’re ticketed for driving with expired or no tags in California, don’t be sure it won’t be a major legal issue. It’s a correctable violation, also called a “fix it” ticket, so you can avoid the worst of the consequences if you act quickly.
We’ve laid out a guide to what happens when driving with expired tags in California and several ways to defend yourself against an expired tags charge or at least reduce the penalties.
Can I Drive With Expired Tags?
According to the California Vehicle Code, section 5204(a), all vehicles must have their current registration tabs (another name for tags or stickers) on their back license plates, and failure to do so violates the code.
It’s not a huge offense, with only a $25 base fine and a state tax multiplier of about 4-9 times the fine amount. Maybe you didn’t get your tags on time before driving your car again, or you simply forgot, but whatever the reason, you can “fix” this violation and avoid paying the fine if you simply stick the tags on your license plate as quickly as you can. Avoid driving your vehicle until you do so, or else you get fined again, which will only compound the penalties involved.
This can lead to you owing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In fact, driving for over six months with expired tags after already being fined will likely lead to your vehicle being impounded under California Vehicle Code Section 22651 (0)(1). And if you don’t have the tags because you haven’t renewed your registration, then that’s another issue, one that we dealt with in a previous blog, as mentioned above.
How Do Fix A Ticket for Expired Tags
When an officer pulls you over for not having tags up to date on your rear license plate, here are several tips for getting out of a fine and maybe even fixing the issue.
Prove Your Registration Is Up To Date
Normally when your registration has been renewed, your tags take a while to arrive by mail. But suddenly, a need arises to use your vehicle, and you’re forced to drive without the new tags. Or you just forgot to stick them on the plate. If any of these cases is you, here are two options:
- Prove to the officer your registration online via your phone. Log into your DMV account and show them you’ve paid your registration but simply forgot the tags. They’ll let you off with warming most times, but not always.
- Show you paid your registration at court if you can’t provide proof to the officer at the moment they pull you over. You must submit a Proof of Correction form.
Prove Later Your Tags Have Been Placed
If you were fined for expired tags, then fix the issue. You must notify the court on the date to appear. Both Orange and Los Angeles counties offer the opportunity to prove you have fixed the problem without seeing a judge first. Just head to the court clerk’s office at the traffic court window in these counties.
Show proof you’ve placed the tags on your vehicle, and then just pay a correction fee. Ensure not to ignore the ticket even if you already placed the renewed tags on your license plate. You must address the citation and appear in court. If you don’t, the ticket will be sent to Collections, where they’ll charge you with Failure To Appear (FTA), and now you have two problems. The state can suspend your license, charge you with a misdemeanor, and add more fees and fines to your original ticket. Don’t let a simply expired tags ticket turn into a nightmare, points on your license, or even an impounded car.
Kindly contact us at Ticket Snipers if you have any questions about driving with expired tags and how to defend yourself against expired tag citations. We are available 24/7 if you’d like to chat with one of our trained consultants about expired tag ticket defense.