How Long Can a Car Go Unregistered?


To drive a car legally in the United States, you need to register it with your home state and receive a license plate. However, you can’t do this until you have purchased the car. Furthermore, people make mistakes and forget to renew their registrations sometimes. This may lead you to ask: how long can you go without registering your car?

Can You Drive an Unregistered Car?

You cannot legally drive an unregistered car on public roads. For these purposes, public roads include privately owned roads that are connected to public roadways. Some farms and other large properties have private roads that would allow an unregistered vehicle. However, in most cases, it is illegal to drive a vehicle that is unregistered.

Despite it being illegal, it is helpful to understand the rules. That way you can avoid needing to call up a Sacramento traffic ticket lawyer because you got an unregistered vehicle ticket.

After Purchase

When you purchase a vehicle from a dealer, you will receive a temporary registration that is good for a certain amount of time following the purchase. This duration depends on the state. In California, it is 90 after the purchase.

For a private sale, you will need to report the purchase to the DMV. While strictly speaking you should not be driving the vehicle during this time and should carry it on a trailer instead, many people do. If you get pulled over and are within the reporting time frame, you will likely not receive a ticket. In California, the timeframe for reporting a private sale is 10 days.

You will need to register the vehicle when you report it. Many states will give you a temporary registration before sending you your full registration and license plate.

Missed Renewal

If you miss your renewal for registration, there is no grace period. In California, it is treated like a traffic ticket if a cop notices your out of date tags or pulls you over for another reason. If you want to fight traffic ticket California is generally somewhat forgiving about missed renewals provided that you are within 180 days of the date. Cops will also often be a little bit more forgiving.

Fortunately, there are no points for this type of ticket. Furthermore, the fine is relatively minimal. The main issue you could face is if the court decides to garnish your wages over the issue. Again, this should not be for a large amount, but it is a frustrating and difficult situation. The main chunk of the cost will likely be from the actual registration, which you would have to pay either way. Garnishment can happen once you are 90 days past needing your registration.

Unused Vehicles

You can have an unused vehicle that isn’t registered. However, if you have let your registration lapse and your insurance, you may owe fines to get it reinstated.

Learn More

Getting help from a traffic ticket lawyer Los Angeles residents can rely on will help you navigate this situation. In most cases, it is best to simply keep your vehicle registered.

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