Proposed bill attempts to curtail expired tags, plates

A great article recently in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talked about the problem in the City of St. Louis with drivers continuing to drive with expired temporary tags and license plates. 

Anecdotally, the problem appears to be growing in the City. When Jimmie Edwards became the public safety director for the City of St. Louis in 2017, he apparently made it known to police officers to be on the lookout for expired temporary tags and license plates, and then to issue the drivers tickets.

It can be difficult to measure just how much of a problem there really is and how much money is lost in unpaid registration fees and sales taxes.

The Post-Dispatch article stated that St. Louis County police officers last year issued more than 10,000 tickets, including for expired plates.  And that total doesn’t include tickets that were voided, that prosecutors declined to pursue, or were issued under local ordinances in small municipals. County officers also issued 18 tickets to drivers for issues with temporary permits.

As to police in the City of St. Louis, more than 13,000 tickets were issued for operating without a proper vehicle license, up more than 3,000 than in 2017, the article stated.

But even with increased enforcement of the problem, it continues to persist. An obvious factor is the costs of renewing one’s license plates in Missouri.  There are costs associated with the renewal, such as safety and emissions tests, showing current proof of auto insurance, and that you have paid your registration and processing fees, as well as paid your personal property tax.

Many who get cited for expired tags and plates are often poor and cannot pay property tax on their car.

State Rep. Donna Baringer had sponsored a measure that became law last summer which requires drivers to turn in temporary tags to a state license office when requesting permanent plates.

Currently she has a bill before the Legislature that she hopes will deter the use of expired plates while educating car buyers.  The proposed bill requires a check for the amount of the sales tax be made out to the Missouri Department of Revenue when sales tax is rolled into a car loan.  That check now goes to the vehicle’s buyer, who can spend it elsewhere.

Additionally, Baringer’s bill also would require a vehicle buyer to sign a waiver.  The waiver  would state that all applicable sales taxes are due within 30 days of the purchase and that it is illegal to drive a vehicle in Missouri without properly insuring the vehicle.  Furthermore, by not submitting the tax within the 30 days would result in a fine of $25 every 30 days, or a maximum fine of $200.

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