Betcha Didn’t Know


“Borrowing” someone elses car registration tags can land you in some seriously hot water.

Back in June of 2000, I went to Las Vegas with a group of 4 other people. (Side note: Betcha didn’t know you could fit 5 people in a VW Beatle and take a 5-6 hour drive to another state, but you totally can)

Anyhow, our group was leaving from Newport Beach, CA on a Friday, and returning late Sunday. The car I was driving at the time was a really crappy Toyota Corolla that looked like hell, but drove like a champ. The problem? It wouldn’t pass smog so I couldn’t get the registration tags for it. I did, however pay the registration fees. Until it passed the smog check there would be no tags for me.

A few days before we were set to head of to Sin City, I was changing out the tags on my grandmother’s Thunderbird. And there it was, the answer to my problem. The main issue? I’d be parked on the street in NB for a weekend, and I didn’t have current tags. That pretty much guaranteed my car would be towed. If I had a current tag on the car, I figured the police would pass my car by and when I got back, I’d handle the whole smog check issue.

Newport Beach is a pretty snobby city. I really do love NB, but it seems like the police there love to give out tickets for anything and everything.

Anyhow, I parked my car and we were off. We all had a great time, but then it was time to come home. The drive took forever (“for-e-ver, for-e-ver” ~ bonus points if you can name that movie quote.) We pulled in crazy late, but wtf? Where’s my car? WHERE’S MY CAR?!? A few minutes on the phone with the NB Police Department netted the info that my car had been towed. They didn’t really say why.

A few days later, I got a phone call from a nice gentleman at the PD. I’m being serious, he was really nice. He asked me who so-and-so was and I froze. He said my grandmother’s name. I told him who she was and he asked if I realized that the numbers on the tag are assigned. All they had to do was run the tags and they’d know who’s car they belonged to. Doh! Busted.

I explained that the car didn’t pass smog, I was parking in NB for the weekend and I paid the reg. fees but i couldn’t get the tags. He was really understanding and said that since I was totally cooperative, he’d make a note of it in the file for the judge to see when I went to court. Ugh, court.

I guessed they actually ran the tags on the car, because let’s be honest here, the car was an eyesore. It didn’t sit too well on the street in such a hoity toity city. They had to be looking for any reason to get it off the street, and they found it. On a silver platter.

Turns out that “stealing” someone’s registration tags in CA will net you a heafty fine and a misdemeanor on your record. It’s on my record that I’m a thief. Good times.

My advice would be to NOT take your grandmother’s tags just because your car’s tags are expired and there’s still a month or 2 left on hers. That is, unless you like going to court, paying over $500 in fines and having a misdemeanor on your record. If you do, then by all means, go for it!

For more “Betcha Didn’t Know” stories from the “blogosphere,” head on over to Barking Mad. But stick around for all of her posts because they rock!

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Jen Tucker

I'm a wife, mother of three and stay at home mom. I consider myself blessed to have such a wonderful network of friends and family around me. It may not be large, but it's an important one. I look forward to sharing my stories with you, and it is my hope that I can bring a smile to your heart as you read.

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