Yes, driving a vehicle with a registration or tag that has expired for over six months is a criminal offense, especially if the individual has committed a prior offense. An expired tag is a highly defensible charge with the help of a qualified attorney.
In the state of Florida, you are committing a criminal offense if you operate a vehicle that has a tag and registration which expired over 6 months ago if you’ve already committed the same offense in the past. Therefore, it’s important to understand the legislation surrounding this subject to make sure you don’t fall foul of the law.
Section 320.07(3)(c) of the Florida Statutes states that anyone whose vehicle registration or tag expired over 6 months before the time the offense was noted is committing a 2nd degree misdemeanor if the registrant has committed the same violation in the past.
Read more: Expired tags grace period Florida
This misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of 60-days in jail. The current statute states that failing to register an expired tag causes a criminal charge to be brough, putting you at risk of obtaining a criminal record that will remain on file permanently.
The state of Florida requires that any motor vehicle will be legally required to be registered with the Florida DMV (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) within a 10-day period of its owner either establishing residency, placing their children in a public school or becoming employed in the state. Registering a vehicle should be done alongside the vehicle titling process.
Typically, registering a vehicle in Florida will be done in person. It requires a registrant to provide proof of insurance in the state along with the vehicle’s original title to either the local license plate agency or county tax collector. The tax collector will then issue a yellow tag which should be placed into the license plate as proof the taxes (i.e. registration fees) have been duly paid.
Read more: Registration renewal Florida
The vehicle’s registration period (which will displayed on its license tag) will typically be 12-months and will begin on either the vehicle owner’s birth month’s first day, or the month of June for company-owned vehicles.
Florida Statutes Section 320.07(1) states that the vehicle’s registration period will expire at midnight on the final day of its registration period. The interpretation of this by the Florida DMV is that all registrations that are issued in an individual’s name will expire at 12 AM (midnight) on the individual’s birthday.
Adhering to this legislation surrounding registration of a motor vehicle in the state of Florida is very important as otherwise you could end up falling foul of the law and facing prosecution for your expired tag. This is especially problematic if it is your second such offense.
Although it is technically a 2nd degree misdemeanor to have an expired registration or tag for your vehicle, there are some defenses for such cases. These rely on making suitable evidentiary objections at trial in order to have the charge either dismissed or dropped. Therefore, pleading guilty to the charge should be avoided until after speaking with your attorney.
There are several defenses under the Florida law to contest a charge of Expired Registration or Tag.
For a misdemeanor prosecutor, it should be easy to establish that a vehicle with a particular VIN was not registered properly with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. But, often, most prosecutors don’t have the required experience to handle such cases. They wrongly assume that they can prove the charge at a trial just by presenting a police officer’s testimony who will allege that they checked their NCIC or FCIC database and discovered that the vehicle in question has an expired tag or wasn’t properly registered.
So, if your defendant can make proper evidentiary objections, you can have the registration charge or expired tag charge dismissed or dropped at trial. In essence, if you haven’t spoken with an attorney, you should NEVER plead to a registration or expired tag charge in Florida.