Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Plan would eliminate license plate tabs

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By JORDAN TRAVIS
Capital News Service

LANSING – Michigan drivers may no longer have to buy tabs for their vehicle license plates.
A Senate bill would eliminate the small stickers that show the expiration date of a vehicle’s registration. The bill is sponsored by Sens. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, Michelle McManus, R-Lake Leelanau, and Cameron Brown, R-Sturgis.

In 2008 there were 9.6 million registered vehicles and trailers in the state, according to the Insurance Institute of Michigan.

Justin Winslow, Pappageorge’s chief of staff, said that tabs are “essentially obsolete at this point.”

Instead, he said, police can verify whether a vehicle registration is up to date through a computer database.

Drivers would get a new plate every five years under the proposal, and anyone with an out-of-date registration could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $200.

Nearly 50 percent of Secretary of State office visits involve people buying license plate tabs, he said. The change would save the state money by reducing the number of visits to branch offices.

Saving money is a concern, but “the real impetus is the Secretary of State updating its systems,” Winslow said.

He said the move would be the latest in a series of efficiency-related changes. Others include registration renewal at self-serve kiosks, the Internet and by telephone.

Ken Silfven, a communications specialist for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, said that the department supports the concept.

In fact, Land has pursued the idea for several years while initiating other modernizations, such as the kiosks.

“There were a lot of other changes that needed to be done first,” he said.

Silfven said that the department is concerned about the timing of the bill, saying that technological updates, such as the creation of a computer database, are in progress, so any changes with vehicle registration should wait until next year.

Currently, the state pays $2.5 million per year for the printing of registration certificates and tabs, he said.

The bill is pending in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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