New Texas law makes tampering with temporary vehicle tags class A misdemeanor

New law will soon make temporary vehicle plate tampering a Class A Misdemeanor
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 8:06 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Texas’s 88th legislature has introduced a new law that will classify temporary license plates as government documents.

This means that making fraudulent paper vehicle plates or altering them in any way will be a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Lee Pearman of Pearman Motor Company explains how a temporary tag would be issued normally.

“When the customer’s here buying a vehicle or trailer, we would go on to the state website, and then the vin to the vehicle, we would type that in along with the customer info, and that’s what produces the tag.”

The site is designed to make processing dealer tags easier for dealerships in Texas and allows temporary tag information to be made available in almost real-time to law enforcement.

Angelina County Sheriff Tom Selman said criminals have been using the same website to make and sell bogus tags.

Some criminal obtains a car dealer’s license to sell cars; as a car dealer it grants them access to the state paper license plate printing system,” Selman said.

From there, criminals can print the tags and sell them to people who might be trying to avoid registering their vehicle.

“In order to renew the registration, there has to be liability insurance coverage on the car. Some people just don’t want to have liability coverage so they find a car lot or some unscrupulous car dealer that will print them a paper tag.”

Selman said those that are caught tampering with temporary tags will be held accountable.

It’s going to result in a custody arrest; won’t be any traffic ticket issued, they will be taken to jail.”

While HB 914 strengthens the penalties for tampering with a temporary vehicle tag, another law that passed this session, HB 718, will eliminate paper tags all together, but it doesn’t go into effect until 2025.