What Happens When You Drive on an Expired Tag?

by Rob Callahan
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The temptation to drive with expired tags may be great, but the consequences are potentially much greater. Standard vehicle licensing procedure requires an annual fee; to prove you've paid it, you receive a dated tag to display on your license plate. The tag shows you have made the necessary arrangements to operate your vehicle within the bounds of the law; without a current tag, you signal that you have neglected to keep your vehicle's registration current and may have neglected other requirements.

Expired Tags Encourage Police to Stop You

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Driving with expired tags marks you for extra attention from the police. Police can stop you if your tags are expired and issue a citation. While this situation alone can be both expensive and inconvenient, it also opens you to more troublesome concerns. The officer who pulls you over over can issue additional citations based on his observations, which may include tickets for missing and burned-out lights, failure to wear a seat belt, inadequate proof of insurance and driver's license violations. If you want to avoid additional offenses, avoid the initial offense and renew your tags.

The Expense of Fines

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You can receive a new fine every time you are stopped for driving with an expired tag. If stopped more than once in a day, you may be able to talk your way out of additional citations by explaining that you just received one and that you plan to take care of the problem as soon as you can. If you continue to drive without proper registration, and the police continue to pull you over for it, the fines will add up; soon, you will be spending more money on tickets than you would have had to pay for the tags. In Minnesota, for example, a fine for expired tags will cost you $108. The cost to renew your tags varies depending on your vehicle's value but typically does not exceed one or two of these fines.

Parking Tickets

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Police do not have to see you driving to write you a ticket. If they spot your car parked in public without tags, law enforcement officials can leave a ticket on your windshield just as they would for any other parking violation. As with moving violations, these tickets can add up. In certain municipalities, your car may even be impounded after you accumulate too many parking tickets.

Unpaid Tickets Lead to Arrest Warrants

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Failing to pay even a single expired tag fine can lead to a warrant for your arrest. While the police are unlikely to come to your home and take you away over a tags violation, they will arrest you if they happen to pull you over and run your license. With expired tags on your car, you give the police just cause to stop you; once they've stopped you, they can arrest you and impound your vehicle if you happen to have gotten yourself a warrant.

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