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1:39 AM Wed, July 18th

New law looks to force owners to register, insure vehicles

PHOENIX – At the first of the year, vehicle owners will also own their license plates.

When a person sells a vehicle the previous owner will be able to keep the plate, instead of leaving it on the vehicle.

"This is probably going to have the largest impact on motorists than any other motor vehicle law in the state," said Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) spokesperson Cydney DeModica.

The law will likely decrease the number of uninsured and unregistered vehicles on the road, DeModica said, because the license plates will come off of vehicles when they change hands.

The person who buys the car must get a plate for the new vehicle and that won't be possible without registering it. The new owner can't register the vehicle without getting insurance for it, DeModica said.

"This will take a really big step toward reducing the number of unregistered and uninsured vehicles," she said.

The process is relatively simple. When someone sells a car, the owner must transfer the plate to another vehicle, turn the plate in at the MVD or submit a signed statement indicating someone lost or destroyed it, within 30 days of the sale date.

If a person transfers the plate to another vehicle the plate's owner may receive credit for fees paid for the sold vehicle. There is still a $12 transfer fee.

"There has always been a $12 fee," DeModica said.

The MVD will base the amount of the credit on the number of months left on the registration of the sold vehicle.

Owners can apply the credit to only one vehicle registration. They can also apply the credit to the next renewal of the same vehicle, but the credit will expire after that.

The owner can't display the plate on a new vehicle until the MVD processes both the title and the registration and issues the new tabs and registration.

If an owner needs to use the recently purchased vehicle before getting the new tab or registration, he or she can buy a restricted use permit.

On Jan. 1, the same day that the new law goes into effect, people will be able to buy a restricted use permit on-line at www.servicearizona.com or at the MVD.

"This will be a real benefit to the entire motorist public," DeModica said.