Can You Drive a Car with Insurance but no Tag?

Can you drive a car with insurance but no tag? You don’t even have to be pulled over by the police for them to issue a citation. Law enforcement officers can issue a ticket on your windshield if they observe your vehicle parked in public without tags, just like they would for any other parking offence. 

An unregistered vehicle sounds like an automatic ticket to prison. After all, what good are license plates if your automobile misses them? However, there is one situation where you can legally drive without a license plate on your vehicle.

Expired license plates may be enticing, but the dangers of driving with them are far more severe. You obtain a dated license plate sticker to confirm that you’ve paid your annual car licensing cost. Without a license plate, you indicate that you have failed to keep your vehicle’s registration current and may have failed to meet other legal requirements, such as a valid insurance policy.

There’s only one time you can “technically” drive a car without registration or license plates.

Private sellers, such as those on Craigslist, cannot provide you with the vehicle and license plates after a transaction. As a result, you will be left without plates if they decide to lawfully sell the vehicle. A few conditions must be met before driving a vehicle without a license plate is considered legal.

You may want to search elsewhere if the vendor doesn’t have that, as it’s really difficult to get one of them if you aren’t the original owner. 

You’ll need a bill of sale to indicate you just purchased the vehicle. Each state has its unique form; however, they all follow a similar format. Upon agreement on price, mileage, and contact information, you and the seller will begin purchasing the vehicle. Once you’ve signed, you’re good to go! The agreement is in writing.

However, you must first verify the vehicle’s insurance status before taking possession of it. You only need liability insurance if it’s a piece of junk that would cost more to insure than to scrap. 

If you don’t have any insurance, you’ll want to ensure you have all of your coverages ready to go. 

You should check with First Quarter Finance to learn the laws in your area. If the police ever pull you over, it’s a good idea to present these items to them.

Driving with expired tags will bring trouble to the police. If your license plates have expired, the police might pull you over and issue a citation. Aside from cost and inconvenience, this circumstance opens you up to many other issues.

Additionally, officers can issue extra citations, such as tickets for missing and burned-out lights, failure to wear a seatbelt or inadequate proof of insurance or driver’s license infractions based on his observations. If you want to stay out of trouble, don’t commit the first offence and be sure to get your tags renewed.

What happens if I’m Caught Driving without a Tag?

Can You Drive a Car with Insurance but no Tag

The most likely outcome of being stopped for expired or missing tags is a hefty fine. The amount of the fine is determined by your residence. Fines may or may not be issued through the courts.

You should have proof that your license plate renewals have been paid for at this court appearance and that the problem has been resolved. 

What if My Car Gets Impounded for Expired or Missing Tags?

What if My Car Gets Impounded for Expired or Missing Tags?

A tow truck may seize your vehicle if its tags are more than six months past its expiration date. You’ll have to pay a lot more to go back on the road legally if you pay impound fees on top of the fine and late renewal fees. Different states and cities have different procedures for releasing a vehicle from impound.

In many cases, seized vehicles are not released until the following dates:

  • All impoundment-related fines have been satisfied.
  • Correction of the underlying issue that led to the citation or impoundment.

What can happen if you drive without plates or insurance?

What can happen if you drive without plates or insurance?

Driving without a license plate is illegal, except for the one mentioned exception. 

Driving without displaying a front license plate in some states is permissible. Otherwise, you risk paying hefty fines or maybe losing your driving privileges. And if the automobile is impounded for 30 days, that’s an additional $40 every day.

Driving without insurance may be an even more serious offence depending on your state. The fine in Delaware is $1,500, and your license is suspended for six months immediately after you are convicted of DUI.

The fine in Connecticut may just be $100, but you might be sentenced to up to five years in prison if you are caught driving under the influence. State laws may be discovered on, but I wouldn’t change them.

Proving you’ve acquired the vehicle and are in the process of registering it is an easy task. Take a few temporary license plates to the DMV.

Getting temporary tags depends on what state you’re in

It’s like any other good bureaucracy: it doesn’t make any sense. It’s all paper and signatures, with no logic or coherence. The DMV, on the other hand, offers temporary (or trip) tags that inform authorities that your vehicle is awaiting registration.

After that, you’ll receive a piece of paper that you may attach to your vehicle’s rear window or license plate holder and proceed to your destination.

After receiving these temporary tags, vehicle owners must register their vehicles within a 10- to 60-day period. If you don’t, you’ll be ticketed for driving an unregistered vehicle.

You can also inquire about purchasing a one-way journey pass by contacting your local state police department. It’s possible to receive a temporary trip tag from your local police station and then drive your car from wherever you bought it to wherever you need it in states that have them available.

Best practices include ensuring that you are abiding by all of the numerous regulations. However, if you recently purchased a vehicle from a private seller, you may be able to drive it without plates. 


A warrant for your arrest might be issued if you fail to pay a single fine for an expired tag. The police will arrest you if they pull you over and run your license, but they are unlikely to come to your house and do so.

If you have expired tags on your vehicle, the police have a legitimate reason to pull you over; they can arrest you and impound your vehicle if they have a warrant.

If a police officer sees your car parked in a public place without tags, they have the right to issue you a parking penalty. These fines can mount up, just like driving offences.

It is possible in some towns to have your automobile confiscated after racking up too many parking fines.


Adam Grabois is an expert in all aspects of Insurance and Property with 20 years of experience. He is a licensed broker of all lines including property, casualty, life, and health. As a licensed adjuster, he is well-versed in all aspects of insurance, and he owns All Needs Insurance agency in Florida.

He attended Tufts University where he earned his undergraduate degree, followed by a Master's degree from Columbia University.

Adam shares his breadth of experience by helping many businesses and individuals manage risk and protect themselves financially. He now shares this with the audience of the "Pro Insurance Info" website.

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