I SEE EXPIRED TAGS: Jon Lee emails that perennial question, back in the news after a state lawmaker was pulled over on Valentine’s Day and admitted to the officer her vehicle registration had lapsed.
Jon says “sitting at a stop light I look at the vehicle in front of me (and) I often see expired license plate stickers/tags. Sometimes it is several years expired.”
So does anyone get ticketed for that?
Rebecca Atkins of the Albuquerque Police Department explains “officers do cite drivers for expired tags, however it is not often the main reason a driver is pulled over. Officers often pull drivers over for other traffic violations and when they spot an expired tag they will cite them.”
That was the case when state Rep. Georgene Louis, D-Albuquerque, was pulled over in Santa Fe for suspected DWI.
And a check with Metropolitan Court’s statistician reveals that in Bernalillo County, with almost 680,000 residents, 3,050 expired tag tickets were written in 2018 and 3,587 in 2019 leading up to the pandemic. That dropped to 577 in 2020 and 136 in 2021.
The citations are for violating 66-3-19, the renewal of registration statute, which says “it is unlawful to operate or transport or cause to be transported upon any highways in this state any vehicle … subject to registration under the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code without having paid the registration fee or without having secured and constantly displayed the registration plate required by the Motor Vehicle Code.”
In 2018 74 of those tickets resulted in convictions, 66 did in 2019, three in 2020 and one in 2021. Cases are still pending for those years – 92 from 2018, 142 from 2019, 37 from 2020 and 32 from 2021 – for reasons including having a warrant issued.
But the majority of expired tag tickets were dismissed for various procedural reasons, including as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors not showing up and prosecutors giving a warning. A total of 1,997 cases were dismissed in 2018 (65%), 2,354 in 2019 (65%), 396 in 2020 (68%) and 71 in 2021 (52%).
In addition to those dismissals, a good portion were also dismissed because the driver showed proof of registration or went and registered the vehicle before their court date – 862 in 2018, 1,001 in 2019, 136 in 2020 and 26 in 2021.
The balance of cases were sent to diversion programs or district court, or resulted in a deferred sentence, meaning the defendant satisfied the court’s requirements.
As for the convictions, the fine for expired tags per the statute is “the greater of $10 or, if the vehicle is operated or transported 31 or more days after the expiration of the registration, an amount equal to 75% of the registration fee.”
Registration fees in New Mexico range from $27 to $62, meaning the largest possible fine is $46.50.
SPEAKING OF REGISTRATIONS: There are options for registering vehicles and doing other MVD business, including making an appointment at a state Motor Vehicle Division office, using online services on the division’s home page, paying a little extra at a contract office or using a self-serve kiosk.
And MVD is adding a new kiosk, this time on Albuquerque’s West Side.
Located in the Cottonwood branch of the Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union at 3740 Ellison, the kiosk is available during lobby hours, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday.
Charlie Moore of the state Taxation and Revenue Department, parent to the Motor Vehicle Division, explains it joins the kiosks in the Albertsons at Montgomery and San Mateo and the Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union at Juan Tabo and Comanche. (The kiosk that was in the Albertsons at Juan Tabo and Candelaria is the one moving to the West Side.)
Customers can use the kiosks to renew vehicle registrations (you get your registration card and sticker then and there), update driver information and pay traffic citations payable to MVD.
The kiosks are a partnership of MVD, Intellectual Technology Inc. and host businesses at no cost to the state. Customers pay with a credit card. While there is a $3.95 fee plus a 2.3% credit card convenience fee, MVD offers a 5% discount off a base registration cost at the kiosks.
Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; email@example.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109.