When you purchase a vehicle that you intend to drive in California, you are required to register the car with the Department of Motor Vehicles to be allowed to drive the vehicle legally on major roads.
After successfully registering the vehicle, you will be given a registration tag as proof of registration. This registration tag has an expiration date, of course, which means you have to renew your registration.
However, in different states, there’s a grace period during which you are allowed to drive with expired tags until you renew your tags. So, how long can you drive with expired tags in California?
The grace period to drive with expired tags in California is 6 months. This means, you can drive with expired tags in California for six months, after which it becomes illegal and your car will be impounded if you’re caught.
Can You Drive With Expired Tags in California?
Yes, you can drive with expired tags in California for some time, after which your car will be impounded if you’re caught driving without renewing your registration.
It is advisable that you get your tag renewed as soon as it expires, as waiting for a long period will put you and your vehicle at risk of getting pulled over and impounded.
Many times, people relax thinking they still have about six months, only to forget and then fall victim to a crime according to the state.
Although it is labeled as a minor offense, it is still an offense according to the law if you drive with expired tags for more than six months, and if you’re caught, you will be required to face the consequences such as paying of fine and trying to retrieve your car after impoundment.
How Long Can You Drive With Expired Tags in California?
Within six months. If you drive with an expired tag for over six months in the state of California, under the California Vehicle Code 22651(0)(1), the state reserves the right to impound your car for breaking state traffic rules.
It is better to get your registration renewed as soon as it expires, or if possible, within the month before it officially expires. This will help you avoid the risk of getting your car confiscated, and start looking for who can get your car out of impound.
What Happens if You Continue to Drive With Expired Tags in California?
If you drive around with expired tags in California, you can get pulled over, your vehicle impounded, and you can also get fined by the court of appropriate jurisdiction for breaking non-moving traffic laws.
You are meant to renew your registration, to help the state with updated and new information about your car.
Usually, there are changes often made around registered vehicles within a year, which is why California’s Department of Motor Vehicles requires that vehicle registrations are renewed and tags are renewed as well.
In California, if you are caught driving without tags, or with expired tags, you will be fined to the tune of twenty-five dollars ($25) and an additional penalty assessment for breaking the California Vehicle Code 5204(a).
It is usually a minor offense, but your car can be impounded for it.
How Much are Tags in California?
In California, to get tags for your vehicle, you have to pay certain fees such as registration fees, California Highway Patrol Fee, and Vehicle License Fee.
The Registration fee is a fixed amount of forty-six dollars ($46.00), and this is the fee used for registering your car onto the database of the Department of Motor Vehicles in California.
The California Highway Patrol Fee is also a fixed amount of twenty-three dollars ($23.00), and it is paid to ensure that patrol officers are kept running on the highway, to avoid accidents, and also for traffic regulatory purposes.
Finally, you pay a Vehicle License Fee that is worth 0.65% of the value of your vehicle.
The combination of all these could be said to be the amount that tags are worth in California.
How Do I Report Expired Tags in California?
There are two ways to report expired tags in California. You can either call in, write a written letter, or an email to the appropriate authority.
It is only right that there is an authority, or a unit that receives the report of expired tags, as people who abide by the law might want to ensure that others are also law-abiding citizens.
To report by calling the Department of Motor Vehicles registration and compliance unit, which is (916) 657-6718. When you call, you must have the following information about the vehicle you are reporting:
- Brand of Culprit Car: This is used to narrow down the cars on the road. Millions of cars ply the road every day, and of these millions, a few hundred are of the same brand. Narrowing down the car to a few hundred will help the department.
- Model of Culprit Car: This also narrows it down further, to just a few tens in the state, helping the department in their chase.
- License Plate Numbers of Car: This perhaps is the most important information to locate a vehicle. A license plate number is to a car, what an identification card is to a person.
When you want to mail your report also, you should mail it to the Department of Motor Vehicles’ registration and compliance unit, P.O. Box 942869, Sacramento, California, 94269-0001. Ensure that you write the unit, Unit 86A, at the end of the mail, before you mail it in.
Although you can drive with expired tags in California for about six months and you won’t be fined, it is expedient to renew your tags, that is, your vehicle registration as soon as it expires, to avoid getting pulled over, questioned, or even getting fined.
After six months of expiration, if you are caught driving with the expired tags, you will be fined, and your car will be impounded. This is why it is important to always behave diligently with issues of property registration.