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How Much Is A Ticket For Driving Without Registration?

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Getting caught driving without registration can be harrowing. If you've found yourself in this situation recently, you might be wondering how much a ticket for driving without registration costs. We've done the research to answer this question for you.  

Penalties for driving without registration vary by state, and you can find your state's penalties by consulting state laws. Here are the fines imposed by the five most common states:

  • Pennsylvania: $75
  • California: $25
  • Florida: up to $500 
  • New York: $40-$300 
  • Texas: up to $200

While virtually all states impose a fine for driving without registration, many states choose to impose other penalties as well. These penalties can include jail time, community service, or suspension. To illustrate how each state's penalties differ, we will describe each of the five most common states in more detail. 

Male police officers check vehicle on the road, How Much Is A Ticket For Driving Without Registration?

Penalties For Driving Without Registration By State 

Police officer giving woman a traffic ticket.

Take a look at how the five biggest states handle their penalties for driving without registration. Most states list the penalties imposed for driving with expired registration. More complex situations, such as driving with suspended registration, have penalties that vary based on the unique situation. 

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania General Assembly governs the state's rules and penalties regarding registration. If a driver is caught driving without registration, he or she must pay $75 or double the annual registration fee, depending on which amount is greater. 

If the annual registration fee is $50, for example, the driver must pay $100 since that is higher than $75. However, if the annual registration fee is only $30, a penalty of $75 would be imposed since doubling the registration fee would only be 60 dollars. 

Exceptions 

These penalties refer only to vehicles that have never been registered. The Commonwealth imposes different penalties for expired or suspended registration.  

If the registration has expired less than 60 days before the date of offense, Pennsylvania charges a lenient penalty of $25. If the registration has been expired for more than 60 days, the $75 or double the registration penalty applies. 

On the other hand, the Commonwealth penalizes those driving with a suspended registration more harshly. Being caught driving with suspended registration could yield a penalty of up to $500. The driver may also have their license plates seized and sent back to the Department of Transportation. 

California 

California Courts write "fix it" tickets for drivers caught with an expired registration. This means that the driver can make their vehicle's registration current and verify that they have done so with the court or law enforcement.  The driver then pays a $25 dismissal fee, and the court drops the charge from the driver's record. 

Driving with a suspended registration carries different penalties that are more unique to individual situations. The California DMV advises reaching out to local law enforcement to determine what penalties can be incurred. You can also consult your lawyer if you are planning to use one. 

Florida 

Florida's statutes do not offer specific information about penalties. Instead, they only outline that the fine for driving without registration can be up to, but not exceeding, 500 dollars. Penalties become more severe under certain circumstances.

Special Circumstances

For example, if a driver commits an offense that causes another individual's death and doesn't have a valid registration, up to 120 community service hours can be added to the penalties. Speeding in a construction or school zone while not having registration can come with a fine of up to $1,000. 

Please note that in these more severe cases, the registration penalty is likely not the only charge incurred. This information just covers how registration-related charges will be handled. 

If a driver has registration but simply does not have proof of it when pulled over, the driver can prove valid registration and have the case dismissed. Like in California, a dismissal fee is charged, but Florida's is $10 as opposed to California's $25. 

New York 

FindLaw explains that New York's penalties include a fine between $75 and $300 and can include up to 15 days of imprisonment. New York courts tend to go easier on those drivers who had a valid registration within the past six days by only charging a fine of $40. 

Again, New York doesn't provide specific information about what types of offenses yield imprisonment as opposed to just a fine. 

Texas 

The Harold County Justice Courts list the penalty for driving without registration as $75. The courts also specify that a driver has up to ten days to remedy the expired registration. If they can do this, the driver will not receive the $75 fine, and the charge will be dismissed. 

Do You Have To Carry Vehicle Registration? 

License Plate, Keys, and Papers Proving Evidence

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, all states require drivers to register their vehicles. Each state differs, however, in registration costs and process. Each state also has its own rules regarding out-of-state registrations and documents required for registration. 

For example, Pennsylvania charged $36 to register a vehicle and required an annual renewal as of 2017. On the other hand, New York charged $26 for vehicles under 1,650 pounds and charged an extra $1.50 for every 100 pounds over. Renewals were required every two years. 

How Do You Register A Vehicle? 

License Plate Tab

Again, each state requires a different process for registering a vehicle. Consult your state's motor vehicle department for specific steps. However, most states follow a similar basic process. 

Gather Your Documents 

You will need documents to prove your identity, demonstrate your right to have a vehicle, and provide information about the vehicle you are registering. 

Identity 

Since you need your driver's license to register your vehicle anyway, you can also use it to prove your identity. Some states also require your birth certificate or social security card. If you've changed your name due to marriage or adoption, you'll need documents proving this. 

Vehicle Ownership 

Your driver's license proves that you can have a vehicle registered in your name. So, this document will serve both purposes. You will also need your vehicle's title, again to prove that you are the one who should be registering your vehicle, and proof of insurance. You cannot register a vehicle that is not insured. 

Vehicle Information

When you apply for your registration, you will need to know your license plate number, the number of miles on the vehicle, and the vehicle's make, model, and year. The application will also ask for the VIN. 

Most of the information will be on your vehicle's title and insurance card, but take a minute to jot down your mileage and other information to save yourself some time. 

Go To Your Local Department Of Motor Vehicles 

Most agencies allow walk-ins, but it is advisable to make an appointment if your local motor vehicle department is usually busy. When you arrive, you will be advised where to go to complete your registration. Fill out the form you are given and wait to be called. 

Don't worry if you have special circumstances, such as needing to renew expired registration or registering a vehicle in a new state. The agent assigned to help you with your transaction will walk you through everything you need to know. 

Payment And Renewal

After the agent ensure that you've filled your application out correctly, you will pay for your registration and receive your document. Take note of when your registration needs to be renewed because each state has different renewal periods. 

When it is time to renew your registration, you will get information in the mail to make the process more convenient.

Can I Register My Vehicle Online? 

Rules for registering online vary by state. Many states require initial registration to be done in person, while renewal can occur online. If you have special circumstances, you may need to go to a motor vehicle agency to complete the process. 

Summary 

New license plate sticker for 2020

Since states have the power to determine the penalties they want to impose on traffic violations, the cost of a ticket for driving without registration varies across the states. To find the most reliable information about your state, it is best to consult your state's laws or the court from which your ticket was written. 

By looking at the penalties imposed by the five biggest states, however, at least some states try to work with their drivers and allow them to fix their mistakes before enforcing penalties. 

If you want to stay on top of your vehicle's other administrative needs, take a look at these articles: 

What Are Car Tags [And What To Do When They Expire]

What Happens if Your Driving License Expires?

Do Dealerships Register Cars for You? [and How Long It Can Take]