Proposed Arizona Bill Would Eliminate Vehicle Registration Tags

By Claire Caulfield
Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Published: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 9:20am
Updated: Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 9:49am

Arizona state Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, proposed legislation to eliminate physical voter registration tags.

The small, metallic labels fixed to driver’s license plates are the main way police officers can determine whether a vehicle's registration is expired.

The stickers are the most visible indicator of current registration. That is particularly true in a state like Arizona where a motorist can keep the same license plate a decade or more.

"Is that enough to justify incurring costs that otherwise we, as a state, don't need to?'' Ugenti-Rita asked, saying that her main reason for proposing HB 2054 is the cost behind producing and sending out the labels.

"If we get rid of it, we could realize a savings of $1.8 million,'' Ugenti-Rita said. "It's kind of no difference than insurance."

Arizona requires motorists to carry so-called "15-30-10'' minimum liability coverage: $15,000 to cover the injuries to any single individual, $30,000 for all injuries in any accident and $10,000 to cover property damage, normally repairs to another vehicle.

"We don't have a car insurance sticker,'' Ugenti-Rita said. "If you're pulled over, you're asked for your registration and (proof of) car insurance. You supply it to the officer.''

Nothing in HB 2054 eliminates the legal requirement for motorists to keep their vehicle registrations current or the civil fines that can be imposed on those who do not.

Under her plan, Arizona Department of Transportation would issue a registration card electronically and car owners would be required to print it out and keep it in the vehicle.

Motorists without access to Internet or a printer could request a physical registration in the mail.

The idea is not unique.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation stopped issuing such annual stickers last year. PennDOT reported that New Jersey and Connecticut have been without the tabs for years.

However, the absence of the license plate tags could have implications beyond law enforcement.

Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott, said the visibility of those tags makes compliance with the legal requirement to register the vehicle - and send in the fees - much more likely.

"Some people would probably skirt around it and not do it and then take their chances on not getting stopped,'' said Campbell, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.

Campbell has been behind multiple efforts to increase the amount of dollars going into the Highway User Revenue Fund that pays for new road construction and repairs to existing ones.

Neither the Department of Public Safety nor ADOT would comment on the proposal.

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