What Are the Georgia Penalties for Driving With an Expired Tag?

By Mary Jane Freeman ; Updated June 19, 2017
Police Officer Approaches Female Driver

In Georgia, driving with an expired license tag is not worth the risk, as the consequences can be severe. Depending on the reasons for your expired tag, you can face fines from $125 to as much as $2,500. Not only that, you can also get a misdemeanor on your record, go to jail and have your vehicle impounded. In short, it's best to simply register or renew your car's registration as required by state law than drive without valid tags.

Expired Tags

Georgia law requires all residents to register their motor vehicles with the Georgia Department of Driver Services and renew these registrations every year. New residents must register their vehicles within 30 days of moving to the state. If you fail to do so, you will be unable to replace your vehicle's invalid or expired registration tags with new, current ones. In accordance with Georgia law, if you don't have current tags, you are prohibited from operating your vehicle. If you choose to do so anyway, and a law enforcement officer pulls you over, he will cite you for having an improper or expired tag. If you are subsequently convicted of, or plead no contest to, this charge, the court places a misdemeanor on your permanent record and can also fine you. Amounts vary by county, but the average fine, as of 2013, is $125 for tags expired 59 days or less and $135 if expired 60 or more days

Suspended, Canceled and Revoked Registrations

If your expired tag is the result of a suspended, canceled or revoked registration, the penalties are stiffer. Not only will you have a misdemeanor on your record, the fine increases from approximately $125 to as much as $1,000. In addition, you may receive a sentence of as much as one year in jail for the infraction. If you are cited two or more times within a five-year period, the court will instead treat you as a habitual offender. This means the misdemeanor on your permanent record has a "high and aggravated" designation, which carries a penalty of not less than 10 days and not more than 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500. Your car is also likely to be impounded, which means you'll have to pay towing and impound fees as well.

Extended Penalties

For drivers in Georgia who have an expired tag due to a suspended or revoked registration, the penalties don't stop at a misdemeanor conviction, fines and possible jail time. In addition to these penalties, the initial period of revocation or suspension is extended for an additional six months. To reinstate the registration at the conclusion of this period, the driver must pay a restoration fee, which as of 2013 is $210, or $200 if he submits it by mail.

Other Options

In some Georgia counties, drivers with expired tags may be able to have both their offenses and fines reduced under limited circumstances. For example, in DeKalb County, a driver cited for an expired tag that was not the result of a suspended registration may seek a standing order. The standing order reduces the driver's misdemeanor to an ordinance violation and such violations are not reported to the state. To be eligible, an expired tag must be the only infraction for which the driver was ticketed during the traffic stop. The driver must petition the recorder's court for a standing order no sooner than 10 days after the issuing of the ticket and at least 10 days prior to the scheduled court date indicated on the ticket. He must provide proof of his new tags by showing his updated registration documents to the court and pay a fine of $10 for every month the tags were expired. Once he makes the payment, the case is closed as an ordinance violation.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.