Getting your driver's license and first car are two of the early milestones of your life. Freedom! Independence! The open road! Even years later, the ability to hop in your own vehicle and zip down the highway remains something special. So, if the state you live in suspends your vehicle registration, it can be a terrible setback.
Suspended Vehicle Registration
To drive your car legally, you need a license plate for it. Your state requires you to register your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before you get a license plate. Then you have to update the registration every year by paying a fee and, in some states, getting a smog check, to keep it current. If your registration is current, you have the right to drive or park the car on public roads and highways.
If the state suspends your registration, your rights to drive and park the car on public roads is revoked. You cannot park your car on the street in front your house until the registration is reinstated and is once again valid.
Read More: What is Vehicle Registration?
Reasons Registration Might be Suspended
One of the main reasons states may suspend your vehicle's registration is if you fail to pay annual registration fees. Once the registration expires at the end of the term, your car registration is no longer valid, and driving the car is illegal. Likewise, if your state requires your vehicle to pass a smog check as part of the annual registration, failure to pass also can result in a suspended registration.
Every state has its own laws about when car owners are penalized by a suspended registration. But two other typical reasons for suspending a car registration are driving without insurance and driving without a valid driver's license. In Georgia, your registration will be suspended for a lapse in insurance coverage and also for failure to pay the lapse fee.
In some states like New York and California, you cannot renew your vehicle's registration until you have paid the amounts due on all parking and traffic tickets issued on your vehicle and all highway and bridge tolls. In New York, you will also be unable to renew your registration if a judgment was entered against you for a motor vehicle accident and an amount over $1,000 is outstanding and unpaid.
Clearing a Suspended Registration
To clear a suspended registration, you have to check with the DMV to determine the reason for the suspension and find out what is needed to reinstate it. Then you have to take care of the issue and whatever payments might be needed.
If your registration was suspended for failure to pay the fee, for example, you must pay the fee and the reinstatement fee. If you owe back parking tickets, you must clear them up and then pay the reinstatement fee. If you owe an unsatisfied judgment, you'll have to satisfy the judgment before you can apply for registration reinstatement.
Your vehicle registration can be suspended for a number of reasons, including failure to pay your registration fees, driving without proper insurance or driving without a license. You need to follow state procedures to right whatever you did wrong in order to clear your suspension.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.