can you tow a car with expired tags

The Officer’s Discretion

Paying for vehicle tags is not uncommon. You need to pay for the tags each year, so this is not something a person might forget. However, it happens or you just don’t have the money to pay for the tags when it is time.

What happens if you now drive around with a car with expired tags. Is it illegal? Will the car be towed?

These are some of the questions people would have in mind before driving around with expired tags.

Technically, it is possible for you to be towed if the registration is due by six or more months. There will be situations where you may not be towed for this reason. It will largely depend on the discretion of the officer.

Ideally, the tags should be paid each year to avoid potential issues. The last thing you want is to be fined or have the car towed.

The Law on Expired Tags

It is possible for the car to be towed so long as the registration is due by over six months. It can be vague to some people as where can the vehicle be towed. Can it be done while parked, driving, or even in the driveway?

Well, if the car is parked on a street or public land and its tags are expired, the towing company would be called in to have the vehicle towed.

How about when you are still in the car? In this case, a peace officer or rather a police officer would be the one that can recommend towing.

Factors that would affect if you get towed or not include;

What is the current situation?

Sometimes just how you talk to the officer would determine if you can have the car towed or not.

There are times you could have already paid for the tags but you are yet to receive them. So long as the driver can show proof of purchase, there is no need for a fine or citation.

Let us say you are pulled over for speeding and the officer finds out that the tags are expired, then the issue is added to the ticket given.

You are present in the car

The law is different in cases where you are in the car. Like for the scenario described above, you would be driving and then you get pulled over.

Things are handled differently of the car is parked on the street or public property and it has expired tags. The parking enforcement officer or the police could have it towed.

However, it goes differently if your tags are recently expired and it is still not yet six months later. You will get a citation left on the car.

Parked on private propety

The law claims that the car can only be towed if it is parked on public land or street and its tags expired over six months ago.

So, let us assume the car is parked in the driveway, what would happen in this case?

The driveway is private so the enforment officers have no authority to have the car towed. Also, even in a parking structure, they will not temper with it.

In this case, we see that it is not illegal to own a car, but it can be so if you drive it with expired tags.

Here is a video on what can happen if your vehicle tags are expired

The Officer’s Discretion

Whenever you get pulled over, the chances are different officers react differently.

Some officers will simply give you a warning without a ticket. This is to give you a chance to pay for the tags soons.

Some other officers do not take it lightly. You might end up with a ticket mostly if the car is parked on the street.

So, what would make officers react differently?

Restrictions on law enforcement

Depending on the state, different agencies might have restrictions on how their officers enforce rules. So, it is possible that some might not ticket you for late payment of tags, but just issue warnings.

The restrictions are vital so that sometimes the person might be late, but they still need the car let us say getting to work so that you can pay for the tags.

Also, an officer might clearly see the person is stressed because of delayed payment and just give a warning. This allows them to get back to work to get enough money to pay for tags.

You can also come across people who have already paid, but there is a delay in the issuance of tags. They would be let off with a warning.

In case it is your first time delaying on the payment, you are also given a less harsh treatment as you have not made it a habit.

Prevent over-enforcement

As much as the law should be followed, over-enforcing sometimes would make the efforts counterintuitive.

This allows the officers to ticket such mistakes at their discretion. You may get some easily issuing a warning and that is it. This can be beneficial especially for someone who is under stress because of lack of finances to still use the car and handle it later.

Prevent lawsuits

Officers just like you are also bound to act within the law. So, sometimes officers can make mistakes leading to lawsuits. We are talking of overzealous officers who might easily offer ticketings on everything. So, having discretion can help avoid lawsuits that just end up wasting time.

In case of lawsuits, it is the agency that has to deal with them. They can get costly if the officers keep making the same mistake. However, if the enforcement is not too strict, you end up with less mistakes and lawsuits too.


What are the fines for dirving with expired tags?

You may face a fine of $100 to $200 in case you are present during inspection of the tags. However, you can pay even the impound fees if the car has to be towed.

Will your car be towed for expired tags?

It can be towed if the tags are overdue by six or more months and it is parked on public land or street.

Can the car be towed without a warning?

It depends on the officer to makes the discovery. For the most part, you can get a warning for the first time, but if it becomes a habit, then the car would be towed.

Can you have a car with expired tags in your driveway?

Since the driveway is a private property, you can have the car parked without worrying that it may be towed. It will only be towed if it is on public land or street.

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