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Many Oregon drivers with expired tags

There was a moratorium on citations for minor violations like expired vehicle registrations that expired on January 1. The presumptive fine for expired tags is $115.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Everyone who owns a car registers it with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but whether drivers have current registration stickers affixed to the bottom of their license plates is probably not something most people notice.

A KGW viewer wrote in a tweet, "Trying to figure out why a third of drivers in Oregon have expired tags. Can't blame the pandemic. I renewed my tags and got a new license in the middle of it. Are those people not paying to use our roads right now?"

That seems like a bloated claim, but after a little stroll around the KGW News studios in downtown Portland, KGW's Chris McGinness counted 19 cars with expired tags within a three block radius. One was more than three years expired.

Credit: KGW

To answer the question in the tweet: Yes, vehicle registrations pay for Oregon roads. For instance, if you live in Multnomah County, the county's portion of your vehicle registration fee goes entirely to paying off the Sellwood Bridge, completed in 2016, and the planning for a new Earthquake Ready Burnside.

RELATED: Advocates push for accessibility options for replacement Burnside Bridge

Vehicle registration fees have gone up in recent years. The Oregon State Legislature approved a series of four scheduled increases as part of HB-2017, a historic transportation investment in the state's roads. Fees vary by county and the gas mileage your car gets. The current DMV schedule is published on their website.

There was a moratorium on issuing citations for minor violations, like expired vehicle registrations, due to pandemic shutdowns and the backlog at the DMV, but that ended on January 1. The presumptive fine for expired tags is $115.  

The chart below represents the number of violations noted by Oregon State Police over the last several years. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) does not have this information readily available.


ORS 803.455 specifically refers to failure to renew, and ORS 803.560 refer to improper display.  

Many have asked about the PPB's policy on traffic stops-.

"We have not restricted officers as to what they are able to stop vehicles for. They can make traffic stops for any violation the state statute allows for. However, we have asked them to focus their efforts on “dangerous driving behaviors.” We do not list those out for them either, but let them decide what appears dangerous to them," said Sergeant Ty Engstrom.

Meanwhile, the DMV said at least two-thirds of Oregonians now renew their registrations online. There's no additional fee for renewing if you're overdue. However, if you're more than a year, you will have to go to the DMV to renew. 

KGW's Chris McGinness does the Driving Me Crazy feature as a generally, but not always, lighthearted take on things that drive people nuts on area roadways. Most of us can relate, and most of these topics are your ideas. What drives you crazy? Post your videos and pictures on McGinness' Facebook page, on Twitter, or email cmcginness@kgw.com

Watch: Driving My Crazy YouTube playlist

RELATED: Dealing with Portland's potholes | Driving Me Crazy

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