Updated at: 28-03-2022 - By: Lucas

According to the DMV, it might take anywhere from 2 to 5 weeks to renew your vehicle’s registration in California. In a month, my registration will be up for renewal, and I’d like to get a jump on the system.

“How Long Can You Drive With Expired Tags in California?” is the one that has been on my mind recently.

I can’t drive in California with expired tags because there is no grace period for renewing vehicle registrations or tags.

I could face citations for traffic violations as soon as the next day. If I don’t display my new plates for six months, the authorities have the right to take my automobile away from me.

To get my attention, I’ll keep getting many tickets even after I’ve received one for driving with expired tags. My tags can be renewed as long as I keep paying my fines.

When it comes to fines in California, especially, the penalties are compounded, leaving me with hefty fines that can quickly add up.

Driving With Expired Tags In California

How Long Can You Ride Around With Expired Tags

When it comes to renewing car tags in California, drivers have no wiggle room. California’s Vehicle Code 5204 states that driving with expired tags is a violation of the state law.

This is a relatively minor infraction that can be dropped with payment of the fine and completion of any necessary remediation.

What Happens If I Am Pulled Over?

Depending on the police officer, I could be subject to a variety of penalties for driving with expired tags.

If I am stopped, the officer has the option of doing one of the following:

Acknowledge my error and tell me that I must renew my license within 30 days.

Rather than writing a ticket, issue a warning.

You can fine me, but don’t take my automobile if the registration lapsed more than six months ago.

If my vehicle’s registration has been lapsed for six months or more, you may fine me and/or impounded it.

Remember that a police officer can issue me a penalty for expired tags if I leave my car unattended in a public parking lot.

Additionally, if you don’t have or have expired insurance or a driver’s license, your fines may be increased.

What Is My Penalty?

In addition to the penalty assessment, violating the law by driving with expired tags results in a $25 basic fee.

The state adds a tax multiplier, and the base fine is multiplied by 4–9 times, resulting in a fine of $100–200. There’s a chance it includes things like service charges.

It gets more expensive the longer I delay paying my fines in California. A ticket and eventual impoundment would be issued to a vehicle with a tag that had expired more than six months prior.

If you assume that addressing the issue (i.e., adding a new tag) will make everything better, you’re completely wrong.

I would have to pay the fine and appear in court on the date specified in the citation in both of the foregoing circumstances.

Some counties, like Los Angeles, do not require me to appear in front of a court to finish the process.

That means that my fine could go up by several hundred dollars if I don’t show up in court on the scheduled date.

The citation will only be remedied if I show up in court with proof of proper tags.

Following are some of the repercussions of my citation being sent to GC Services:

If I don’t show up for court, the judge has the authority to issue a misdemeanor charge against me.

Your driving record could be tarnished if you use the services of GC.

If I don’t take my issue to court, I wind up paying a lot of money in fees and fines.

How Do I Renew My Registration?

How Long Can You Ride Around With Expired Tags-2

Every year, I am required by California law to re-register my vehicle. The DMV sends me a renewal notification approximately two months before my tag expires, which tells me pretty much all I need to know about the process.

It could or could not include the following:

The date of expiration of the tag.

This includes the model and make of my vehicle.

Fees for re-registration after a period of inactivity.

Late fines if you don’t renew on time.

Fines and tickets are part of the pending delinquency fees.

A certificate of emission is a must.

Scheduling an appointment with the DMV will allow you to avoid the long lines and ensure that you have all of the necessary renewal documents with you.

If you have any outstanding traffic tickets, pay them and acquire a court clearance certificate. Renewing a membership is as easy as paying with a credit or debit card, cheque, money order, or any combination thereof.

Renewal of an expired tag does not necessitate a trip to the DMV.

I have the option of attending in person, as well as any of the following:

Currently, the most popular method of registering is through the DMV’s website at www.dmv.ca.gov. You can also check out www.etags.com for more information.

Make sure the address on file is correct and there are no outstanding tickets before registering by phone.

Send the renewal form to the address provided on the form. Make sure you send it in on time for the renewal process.

The DMV must have the accurate address and the driver’s license in order to use the phone or online registration.

Ensure that the DMV has your current address in order to avoid any renewal reminders being overlooked. The last five digits of my car’s VIN should come in useful if I choose the online route.

The time it takes to renew a license varies depending on the method used. Please see the list below in case you need to make a decision based on the time you have available.

It is also dependent on the fact that all of the paperwork is in order and right.

There is a DMV Kiosk where you may get your driver’s license or ID card instantly.

Up to two weeks for online renewal

Up to 2 weeks for Phone Renewal

Up to six weeks for mail renewal

How Much Does It Cost To Renew My Tag?

It’s easy to renew the registration tag, but there are a lot of variables to take into account when determining the cost.

Additionally, you may be required to pay for a license plate or late fees if applicable.

Renewing fees may include the following:

The cost of specialized programs varies by county.

If you want a unique license plate, you’ll have to pay a premium.

Tolls on motor vehicles amount to 0.65% of their worth.

Any outstanding tickets that need to be taken care of.

Fines if you don’t renew on time.

Renewal tags in California are not subject to a set fee. Beyond the standard price of $46 (which is subject to vary), there are renewal fees specific to each vehicle.

The type of vehicle, the distance, and the age of the vehicle all play a role in the renewal fees. Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, renewal costs can possibly double.

As early as 60 days before the expiration date, I can begin the process of renewing my license. In order to avoid paying late fees and fines, the renewal notification acts as a reminder to renew the registration.

It’s best to keep in mind that there is no grace period in California. Even before my registration expires, I’ll have to begin the renewal process.

I will be liable for late penalties if I don’t renew the tag by the due date.

In addition, there will be a California Highway Patrol (CHP) late fee and a part of renewal payments. It’s on top of the regular renewal fees.

As a condition of early payment, the DMV may also be able to grant a tax break on the vehicle’s registration. Check with the DMV to see if you’re eligible for the same.

If I won’t be driving my automobile for more than 90 days, I can also apply for a Planned Non-Operation.

Can I Replace My Lost Registration?

Documentation for registration includes a registration card, which is attached to the license plate, and a tag (or sticker). One or more of these would be disastrous.

I’ll get a ticket and a fee if any of these aren’t present. If you do happen to lose one or both of these, don’t delay in getting a replacement.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to pay a fee to replace my registration, but not as much as if I’d renewed it late.

The quickest alternative would be to go to the DMV in person, but it would entail a lengthy wait. Although the process can take as long as two weeks online, it is the most convenient option.

The process of requesting a new registration is rather straightforward. In order to register for the first time, complete the online form REG 156 and follow the instructions.

If you prefer, you can print off the form, fill it out completely, and mail it to the DMV with your money. You can anticipate to receive the document in 6-8 weeks via this method.

In order to fill out the form, I’ll need to have close at hand my license plate number, VIN, driver’s license number, as well as the brand and model of my vehicle, just like when I renew my registration.

Anyone may easily fill out the form with the help of these. To replace a lost or stolen tag or registration card, follow the steps outlined above, but you’ll have to relinquish the damaged tag or card in exchange.

For each tag and registration card, the replacement fee is $20. However, third-party websites may be able to help speed things up for a small cost.

What Do I Do If I Haven’t Received My Renewal Notice Yet?

60 to 90 days prior to the expiration date, the California Department of Motor Vehicles mails renewal letters. Perhaps your address hasn’t been updated yet, so you haven’t received the notice.

Or, perhaps your notice was snatched by the postal service. For more information, contact the DMV. The renewal notice isn’t required, but you can still do so.

How Can I Get My Car Out Of The Impound Lot?

Towing or impounding is an option for vehicles whose tags have expired for more than six months.

It’s possible to get your car returned, but only if you’ve paid all of your fines, including previous tickets, impound costs, and your DMV records are clear of any errors.

What Happens If I Fail To Appear In Court For Driving With Expired Tags?

Following a citation, you must appear in court on the specified date and provide proof of payment of the fine and renewal of the tags.

If you fail to appear in court, you could face further fines and a suspension of your driver’s license. Misdemeanor charges can also appear on your criminal record.

Can I Drive With An Out-Of-State License In California?

To drive in California with an out-of-state license, you must be an out-of-state visitor.

In addition, you must be at least 18 years old to participate. Within ten days after moving to the state, you must apply for a driver’s license.


In California, it is illegal to drive with an expired license plate.

If you don’t fix it, it’s probably an annoyance and you’ll have to pay a fine. When I pay the fee, renew my registration, and appear in court with the evidence, the charges are dropped.

Although there is no grace period for me, I will only receive citations until it is six months following its expiration. A tow or impound may be ordered if I fail to renew my registration within the allotted time period.

The process of renewing my driver’s license tag is rather simple, and I may either renew it online, by mail, phone, or in person at the DMV.

While the final choice is the fastest, the other three options have varying time frames that I should be aware of.