What Happens If You Get Pulled Over With Expired Tags?


It’s a car owner’s responsibility to keep his/her vehicle registration up to date every year. Having current registration means that your tag is current. Proper registration involves getting the vehicle inspected, paying property tax, and attaching the tags to your license plate. If you get pulled over for expired tags, you will owe a fine that is relative to the amount of time your tag has expired. Receiving a ticket for an expired registration can result in a misdemeanor conviction on your record.
A ticket for expired tags is an infraction but can still require your attendance in court. If you are supposed to appear in court but fail to do so, DMV can take action to suspend your driver’s license. Our Raleigh traffic offense lawyers have experience in assisting clients who have been ticketed for expired registrations. In this article, we answer some common questions regarding these citations.

Can You Get Pulled Over for Expired Tags or No Tags?

The answer is yes. You can get pulled over for driving with expired or no tags. The good news is that driving with expired tags is usually a non-moving violation. If registration tags are not affixed to your license plate, you can get a ticket. Your tags must be clearly and properly displayed.

What Happens When You Get Pulled Over and Ticketed for Expired Tags?

You will get a fine. Your car doesn’t have to be in traffic, moving, or even occupied for you to get a ticket. Even if you are parked legally, you can still get a ticket. Furthermore, you can be ticketed repeatedly for not having tags displayed. The consequences depend on the officer or citation. It’s possible that you can end up with a grace period, but you shouldn’t count on it being a given. You should take care of your ticket as soon as possible. Going online can save time on getting new tags, though it may cost a bit more.

What are the Penalties for an Expired Registration?

If you are pulled over for expired tags, most of the time you will receive a warning and a ticket.

Warnings and Tickets

Slightly out-of-date tags are commonly seen by police officers. If the violation is minor and your tags are recently expired, you may only get a verbal warning. However, the police officer can write you a ticket for the expired tags. The ticket usually is more severe when your tags are out-of-date for a longer period of time.

Citations and Impoundment

An officer may choose to write a citation and also impound or tow the vehicle if the registration has expired for more than six months. You will not be able to regain possession of the vehicle until you renew the registration and pay any associated fines.


If you get pulled over twice with an expired registration of over six months, you can face penalties as severe as going to jail. However, it is more common to be issued a criminal traffic citation and a notice to appear in court.

Will You Have to Appear In Court?

A ticket for an expired registration is only an infraction, but until recently your attendance in court was still required. North Carolina has enacted the Electronic Compliance and Dismissal (ECAD) procedure that can eliminate the need for going to court.


ECAD is a web-based solution that is part of a large initiative to modernize the N.C. court system. It delivers a fast and convenient way of requesting dismissal online for certain traffic offenses and potentially avoiding going to court. ECAD covers several offenses, including an expired inspection and an expired registration card/tag.

ECAD has three components:

Enables the public to request dismissal and check the status of pending requests
Provides district attorneys with the ability to review requests and approve or deny them
Provides clerks with the ability to view the cases that have been dismissed

If a district attorney approves an ECAD request, the case is electronically dismissed and the requestor is notified by email that he/she no longer needs to appear in court. Any outstanding ECAD requests that reach five business days from the assigned court date without being addressed by the district attorney will be denied automatically and the defendant will be notified to appear in court on the assigned date.

What Are the Late Fees for Vehicle Registration Renewals?

Many people in North Carolina think that there is a grace period for renewing their tags. This hasn’t been the case for several years. Let’s say your registration sticker is for January, then your registration expires on the last day of January.
If the vehicle registration expires and has expired for less than one month, a late fee of $15 is charged. For example, if the sticker reads “01/21,” you will be charged the late fee if you renew during February. If the registration has been expired for one month, but less than two months, a late fee of $20 will be charged. For example, if the plate sticker reads “01/21,” you will be charged $20 if you renew during March. If the registration has expired for two months or longer, a late fee of $25 will be charged. For example, if the plate sticker reads “01/21,” you are charged $25 if you renew during April or later.

Contact Coolidge Law Firm When You Have Been Pulled Over and Ticketed for Expired Tags

Getting pulled and receiving a citation can be a stressful situation regardless of the severity of the ticket. Coolidge Law Firm is experienced with expired tag citations. We can walk you through the proper steps to rectify the situation and go forward in the process. Call us at (919) 239-8448 or complete the form below.

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