Does it get under your skin when your new neighbors from out-of-state continue to drive their cars and trucks — month after month — without getting Washington state license plates?
Of course it does. Sure, it’s not the crime of the century but it nevertheless is annoying to see the law — which mandates newcomers get state plates and a driver’s license within 30 days of relocating — flaunted.
Beyond that, the state loses millions in revenue every year when new Washingtonians aren’t paying their share of the fees that keep the state running. The fact that they are skirting the law is probably costing you a few extra bucks every year.
Well, a new state law went on the books on July 28 that aims to reduce the level of license-plate cheating. It’s a clever approach that encourages cooperation of those new to the state.
The new law, sponsored by Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, nudges violators to comply with the law — once they are caught — by creating a diversion program and reducing the fine, according to the Seattle Times.
First-time offenders will still receive a citation that calls for them to be fined up to $1,529. However, they can save about $1,000 if they go to court, pay a $500 fine and obtain a valid Washington driver’s license and vehicle registration within 90 days.
Of course, folks could save themselves $500 if the simply make the first move and re-register their vehicles soon after moving to Washington.
This is exactly what Wilson and her fellow lawmakers were hoping would happen when they unanimously approved the legislation.
Wilson said a 2007 study by Washington State University found that about 20,000 cars in Clark County had license plates from other states, mostly Oregon. Given Clark County is just across the river from Portland, it’s hardly a surprise the numbers are that high.
Walla Walla County is also a border county, and although the population in Umatilla County is relatively small, the number of Oregon plates on this side of the border is significant.
Many are likely visiting, but not all
Wilson said she hopes the reduced penalty for a first offense will encourage state troopers to cite violators more often. She said some troopers and police officers told her they were reluctant to give out tickets because of the hefty fine, and she plans to continue meeting with law enforcement about the new law.
Wilson came up with what seems to be a sensible solution to an annoying problem that was costing the state millions of dollars annually.