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Ticketing expired plates within 1-2 days

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Ticketing expired plates within 1-2 days

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
November 5, 2011

Is it any wonder that the public is beginning to hate cops? What is it that cops do to earn the dislike of the public?

One of the things is writing a ticket on the 1st or 2nd day of the month for expired license plates.

The driver gets a $120 ticket.

Now, why wouldn't a vehicle owner renew license plate registration in time? Could money be a reason? Maybe not having the $99 right away? Or at least not until the last payday of the registration period, when suddenly it's urgent, not just important?

The State of Illinois allows you to renew a license plate without financial penalty within 30 days after expiration. Some people mistakenly believe there is a grace period for tickets, too. There isn't.

An observant cop has the legal right to stop a vehicle with expired plates. No question about that. But to write a $120 ticket to the driver? On the first or second day of the month after the plate expiration?

When tickets were $25, that's one thing. For many people, $120 is a lot of money. For some people, it's a LOT of money. And, if you are unemployed or a person with low-income, it's an IMPOSSIBLE amount of money.

And, if you go to court to fight it - and lose, the court system is going to tack on $100-150 in court costs. So the pressure is on the person to cough up the $120 to avoid the gamble of losing.

What would be the harm in issuing a Warning? Some drivers don't realize that the plate has expired? Why not give them a penalty-free five days to go into the DMV and get the current tag? Is there really great harm to the public in doing this?

The only loss is the $120 revenue to the court, out of which a municipality (City of McHenry, I'm thinking of in this case) probably earns $20-40.

Of course, the cop could have required the driver to park the vehicle, or the cop could even have had the vehicle towed. So he did give a break to the driver and should be thanked for that.

Have you ever gotten a ticket for an expired license plate? How many days into the next month were you?

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