Keeping your vehicle registration up to date must be done every year, but for obvious reasons, cannot be fully automated. This means that car owners are responsible for getting their vehicles inspected and re-registered every year, and attaching the tags when they come in the mail. But if you forgot this year or something happened to your vehicle tags, you could find yourself getting pulled over for expired registration.
The usual result is a warning, a fine, and the possibility that your car may be towed or impounded. The penalties you face will depend on how out-of-date your registration is or how unsafe your vehicle appears to be. The good news is that there are several things you can do to avoid the penalties of an expired registration ticket or reduce them.
Expired Registration Penalties
If an officer pulls you over for expired registration tags, the most likely results are a simple warning and a ticket.
Warnings and Tickets
Police officers see slightly out-of-date tags all the time. If the violation is very minor and your tags are only recently expired, you may get away just with a verbal warning. However, the police officer is within their right to write you a ticket for the expired tags as well. The severity of this ticket will usually depend on how long out of date your tags really are.
Fines for Expired Tags
The fines for driving a vehicle with expired registration range between $100 and $200 including surcharges. The longer your vehicle has been unregistered, the larger your fine is likely to be.
Impound or Tow
If your vehicle appears to be incapable of passing inspection, or if you do not correct your registration quickly, your vehicle may be impounded or towed rather than allowing you to keep driving it.
You may be required to show up for a day in court, even if you take care of the registration. This is not optional and you will need to attend. Your day in court can be an opportunity to turn the ticket around.
It is possible for drivers with expired registrations to spend up to 15 days in jail.
What to Do if You’re Pulled Over with Expired Registration Tags
If you are pulled over with expired registration tags, don’t panic. You may be able to skate clean from the situation and, if not, you can almost definitely mitigate the costs by acting responsibly. Use the following techniques to reduce the penalties a vehicle registration ticket.
Prove Your Registration is Current
If your registration really is current, but you don’t have the tags on our car, you can prove it! The ticket won’t stick if your car really is registered. Even if you were driving with expired tags, the law is specifically about unregistered vehicles. As long as your vehicle is registered, you won’t have to pay the ticket.
Show Online Registration During Police Stop
If you’ve got a phone and data signal, you can show a police officer your current registration through your online DOL account or an email receipt. The officer doesn’t have to accept this as proof, but many are tech-savvy and know digital proof when they see it. This is a good way to avoid even having the ticket written in the first place.
Provide Proof of Correction Later
If you can’t prove your current registration in the moment, you can submit a Proof of Correction form which will cause the courts to look up your current registration and dismiss the ticket. You may still have to appear in court if summoned.
Register Your Vehicle Immediately
Assuming your registration is genuinely expired, you’ll need to remedy this immediately. Doing so shows the court that you are a responsible driver (and that your vehicle passes inspection) and your fine can be significantly reduced. There are two ways to get your vehicle registered depending on your circumstances, budget, and the car’s condition.
The most common option is to simply renew the vehicle’s Minnesota registration. This may or may not involve an inspection. If you recently moved into the state, you have 30 days to get your vehicle inspected and registered.
If your vehicle will be parked for most of the year and/or is below inspection standards, you can get a non-operational registration instead. These are very common in large cities, as many people own vehicles but don’t drive them while living in the city. It is also a very affordable option.
Get the Tags On Your Car
Being registered isn’t enough to solve all your problems. You will also need to get new tags on your car or every third police officer will be stopping you about that registration.
Whether you just renewed your registration or got one for the first time, expedite shipping if you need to drive. Alternately, keep your expired vehicle in the garage until the tags arrive via standard shipping.
Replace Lost or Stolen Tags
If you had current tags that have been lost or stolen, get them replaced immediately. There will be a small replacement fee that is ultimately worth not being hassled about your registration.
Appear in Court if Required
If you have been given a court date, you should make plans to appear. A set court date is mandatory and you can be charged with a misdemeanor for failing to appear. Even if you do everything else right.
Your court date is also a chance to dispute the ticket or prove that you have taken corrective steps to renew your registration. This can lead to a reduction in fines and other consequences if argued well.
Pay the Fine and Move On
If your court date is optional and money is no object, you can often choose to simply pay the fine just to leave the issue behind you. But be absolutely certain the court date is optional before taking this route. If you are required to show up in court, you might as well work to reduce your fine and other penalties.
Hire a Lawyer and Go to Court
Should you find yourself attending court, it’s best to have a lawyer who knows how to handle the Minnesota traffic court. Hire a lawyer to make sure all your paperwork and proof is in order and to speak on your behalf for the best possible result.
Contact us for more legal advice!