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Under Florida law, it is a criminal offense and second degree misdemeanor to operate a motor vehicle with a tag / registration that has been expired for more than six months, if such person has committed a prior offense. If you have been criminally charged with Expired Tag / Registration of More Than Six Months, contact our Jacksonville criminal attorney for a free consultation.

You should NEVER plead to a criminal charge of expired tag or registration without first speaking to a qualified criminal defense attorney. These charges are easily fought and, with an attorney making proper evidentiary objections, a judgment of acquittal is often possible. Unfortunately, most people accused of expired tag/registration choose to represent themselves.  In doing so, they plead to the charge (usually with a withhold of adjudication) and acquire criminal records unnecessarily.

Background: Motor Vehicle Tag / Registration Requirements

In Jacksonville, a motor vehicle is required by law to be registered within ten days of the owner either becoming employed, placing children in public school, or establishing residency. Registering your motor vehicle goes hand in hand with the titling process. The registration of a vehicle is typically done in person, and requires the registrant to submit the original title and proof of Florida insurance to the local county tax collector or license plate agency.  The yellow tag issued by the Jacksonville tax collector and placed on one’s license plate will then serve as proof that the registration fees (taxes) have been paid. The registration period for a vehicle (as displayed on the license tag) is usually twelve months and begins the first day of the owners birth month (company owned vehicles use the month of June).

Under Section 320.07(1) of the Florida Statutes, the registration period expires at midnight on the last day of the registration period.  The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) has interpreted this to mean that registrations (issued in the name of an individual) expire at midnight on the day of the individual’s birth date.

Can an Expired Tag or Registration Result in Criminal Charges in Florida?

Under Section 320.07(3)(c), Florida Statutes, any person whose motor vehicle tag or registration in Jacksonville has been expired for more than six (6) months commits a second degree misdemeanor (punishable by up to sixty days jail) if it is the registrant’s second such violation. Under the current statute, a failure to register (expired tag) will criminalize you, result in a criminal record, and can result in a substantial jail sentence.

Defenses to Expired Tag or Registration- Florida Law

Theoretically speaking, it should be easy for a Jacksonville misdemeanor prosecutor to establish that a qualifying vehicle (with a particular VIN number) was not properly registered with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  It often occurs, however, that prosecutors in Jacksonville do not properly prepare for these types of cases. They assume (wrongly) that the charge can be proven at trial by simply presenting the testimony of a police officer, who will invariably allege that he or she checked his or her FCIC/NCIC database on his/her in-car computer and found that the subject vehicle was not properly registered (or had an expired tag).

If proper evidentiary objections are made, it is usually possible to have expired tag or registration charge dropped or dismissed at trial.  For this reason, you should NOT plead to a charge of expired tag / registration in Florida until you speak with an attorney.

If you have been accused of expired registration (more than six months) or expired tag (more than six months) in Jacksonville, consult with an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer before resolving your case.  We offer free consultations to all prospective clients.