Don’t Let a Driving with Expired Tags Ticket in California Spin Out of Control

A citation issued for “driving with expired tags” in California refers to California Vehicle Code VC 5204(a), which prohibits driving a vehicle without registration tabs: “Current month and year tabs shall be attached to the rear license plate…”.


The consequences for driving with expired tags in California are as follows:

driving on expired tags california
  • $25 base fine plus penalty assessment

A “penalty assessment” is a fancy term that allows California to multiply the base amount by roughly 4-5 times. So a ticket for expired tags in California usually ends up being around $100-$200, depending on your circumstances and how the judge decides to sentence your case.

But watch out – a failure to appear in court can turn a simple fix-it ticket into something much worse, as explained below.

Beware: Tickets for Driving with Expired Tags in California Can Pile Up

Maybe you got a ticket for driving with expired tags after you’ve already paid your registration and are simply awaiting your new tags in the mail. Or maybe the tags have already come in the mail but you forgot to put them on your car.

Whatever the case, an officer has the right to continue citing you each time you’re pulled over until you have paid your registration and the new tags are affixed to your license plate, as the law requires.

The importance of taking care of an expired tags ticket quickly cannot be stressed enough: if you fail to do so, a mountain of tickets can add up to several hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Your Car Can Be Impounded for Driving with Expired Tags in California

If you continue to drive with expired tags in California for a very long time, your car can be impounded, under VC 22651(0)(1). After your registration has been expired for a period of 6 months or more, your car can be impounded for having expired tags – even if it was parked on the street and you were not driving it!

Driving with Expired Tags in California with a Failure to Appear

What often starts out as a small, harmless ticket can quickly snowball out of control. For example, let’s say you got a ticket for expired tags, and you fixed the issue shortly thereafter. Many people think because they corrected the issue, there is nothing further required of them.


appear in court for fix it ticket

If given a traffic ticket under VC 5204(a), you must let the court know you corrected the issue. At the bottom of your citation is a date to appear in court to show your tags are now current.

By this date, you have to show the Court you corrected your expired tags. Often this can be resolved with the court clerk at a traffic court window, without seeing a judge. If your ticket was received in Los Angeles County, you can make an appointment with a traffic clerk here.

But if you fail to appear on a Los Angeles traffic ticket, which in the case of an expired tags ticket means you didn’t show proof to the court of your valid tags on or before the date on the bottom of your citation, you will additionally be charged with failure to appear. This means your fines will increase by $300 or more, and a hold will be placed on your driver’s license.

This means that what initially started out as an expired tags violation can quickly turn into a driving with a suspended license offense. Driving with a suspended license can be charged as a misdemeanor and gives law enforcement another reason to impound your vehicle.

The good news is that all of these potentially negative consequences can be reversed when you hire us to go to court for you and get everything straightened out – just use the contact form below to get in touch with us!

Get Help from a Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Attorney

I’ve been handling traffic tickets in Los Angeles for a decade.


Related Articles

Don’t Pay GC Services if You Have a Suspended License

Driving with Expired Registration in California

Driving without Insurance

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

** Disclaimer
The content on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Further, you should speak to an attorney about your specific circumstances before acting on the information contained in this website.

Copyright 2019 Denni Law, Inc. | All Rights Reserved |