License Plate Mobility Law

One of a number of new state laws that went into effect recently is one that lets motorists keep their license plates, even if they sell or trade their car. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell explains.

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The law went into effect January 1st, and TXDOT regards it as a consumer protection law. Spokeswoman Kim Sue Lia Perkes says it's smart to keep your old tags when you sell or trade your car, because it provides protection from liability if the person who buys your old car goes off and does something stupid or illegal with your old plates on the car.  She says that's happened to enough people to make the new law necessary.

"You know they found themselves getting a lot of parking fines, toll charges, police showing up their houses from hit and runs."

The new law requires dealers to remove license plates from trade-in vehicles, and it gives the car's former owner three options. They can transfer the plates to a new vehicle they're buying, keep the plate for future transfer to another vehicle, or they can dispose of it to prevent fraudulent use. Perkes says the law gives the owner complete ownership and control of the plates, and the transfer process couldn't be easier.

"If you're buying from a licensed car dealership all you have to do is tell the dealership that you'd like to transfer your license plates to the new vehicle that you're purchasing and they can complete that paperwork for you. And so for only five dollars you can transfer those plates. Now if you're doing it in a private sale, you need to do that down at your local tax assessor-collector's office." 

Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.