Can I Drive with an Expired Car Registration in Texas?


Following the large expanse of land it covers, Texas offers every form of driving terrain, including off-road, city, and freeway. For your vehicle to operate legally in Texas, it must be registered, and you should possess a valid driver’s license. However, Texas includes a few exceptions for out-of-state drivers and vehicles. This article provides you with all the information you need to know about car registration in Texas.     

As stated earlier, every vehicle in Texas must be registered to operate legally. Normally, the registration validity will last 12 months, after which it must be renewed. After registering your car, one is given a decal to attach to the lower end of the windscreen from the driver’s side. The decal includes a number between 1-12, usually written in a large font to show the month your registration expires. You will receive renewal notification from the State of Texas exactly 90 days before the expiry date of the current registration. Note that driving in Texas without valid tags can get you a jail term or fines. 

For How Long Can I Drive with Expired Tags?

Typically, you will get a 90 days reminder before your current registration expires to renew it. If you fail to do so, you can still drive for up to 5 days before it becomes a criminal offense. What can happen if you get pulled over with expired registration? Normally, car owners will get fined if pulled over for driving cars with expired tags. While fines involving expired registration can be up to 200 dollars in Texas, they are usually determined in court. The court process is primarily time-consuming and expensive, and failing to appeal for your hearing could lead to your license being suspended or an arrest. 

How long can you drive with expired tags in Texas? The good news is that Texas gives a grace period of up to 5 days after your tag expires. Thus, you can drive around the state without the fear of being pulled over and punished. However, you will be liable to fines when pulled over after the grace period elapses. If given a ticket, this means that you have to appear in court for a hearing. 

What is the Fee for Late Registration?

At times, you might manage to avoid being pulled over while driving a car with an expired registration. Also, you may not use the vehicle until after the registration expires. Thus, this will require you to pay a late registration fee the next time you want to renew your registration. Even though the late registration fee varies from county to county, Texas includes a specific fee for late registration. On the other hand, individual counties might add special fees for road construction and maintenance. 

Therefore, if you are registering a vehicle long after the grace period, you should confirm with the authorities if the police have given any citation for that car. One can pay about 20% of the total registration fee to serve as a fine, depending on the peculiarities. 

John Smith
John Smith
Editor at and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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