In Florida, drivers are required to obtain up-to-date registration for their vehicles. A failure to adhere to this requirement can have serious consequences, including the payment of fees and a misdemeanor charge. If you or a loved one were cited for operating a vehicle with an expired registration sticker, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help ensure that your interests are protected.Registration Requirements
Vehicles in Florida must be registered within ten days of the owner retaining employment, placing his or her children in public school, or establishing residency in the state. Registrations are most often done in person at the local county tax collector’s office or a license plate agency and require the car’s owner to submit the vehicle’s title and proof of insurance. Once the appropriate documents are submitted and approved, the driver is issued a registration sticker, which is valid for one year, beginning on the first day of the car owner’s birth month and expiring at midnight one year later.Expired Registration
A person can be held responsible for an expired registration if he or she:
- Operates a vehicle; and
- Does not have a registration sticker for the current registration period.
If the registration sticker expired less than six months before, the owner is considered to have committed a noncriminal traffic infraction, which is punishable as a nonmoving violation. However, if the car’s registration has been expired for more than six months, the owner will be required to attend a hearing before an official. At the hearing, a judge has the discretion to impose a fine or require the offender to attend traffic school. The offense will also count as two points on his or her license. A second offense is treated as a second degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by two months in jail and a $500 fine, neither of which can be avoided by attending traffic school.Exceptions
A vehicle’s owner cannot be charged with violating this law if he or she can show that:
- The vehicle had been leased for 30 days or less; or
- He or she is a service member whose mobile home registration expired while on active duty, and, at the time of the offense, he or she was serving at least 35 miles away.
In order to satisfy this exception, service members must present to the Department of Transportation either a copy of their official military orders or a written verification signed by a commanding officer.
In addition to potential jail time, offenders found in violation of the registration requirements will be charged a delinquent fee.
Although failing to register a vehicle may seem like a minor crime, multiple offenses can result in criminal charges, which carry the possibility of jail time as well as a permanent criminal record. If you have been cited or arrested for failing to register your vehicle or of having an expired registration tag, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein to schedule a free consultation.