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Can I keep my plates after a lapse in coverage in North Carolina?


Question: I had a lapse of auto insurance in North Carolina and I never turned in my plates. I did not get the coverage reinstated with the same auto insurance company, I had a period with no insurance. This happened about six months ago. Is there anything that I can do to keep my plates? I need to be able to get to work and to school. Is there a fine that I can pay? I have never had a lapse of insurance in the past. My auto is insured and has been with the exception of about two weeks when I switched insurance on my car.

Answer: In North Carolina, if there is a lapse of car insurance coverage, the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is notified by the insurance company. When this occurred in your situation the DMV should have mailed you a letter about recertification of liability insurance coverage (Form FS 5-7 Notice) to which you would have needed to respond by providing your new insurance information.

Failure to respond within the required amount of time (10 days) can result in the loss of your license plate for at least 30 days.

After the revocation period you must pay a $50 restoration fee, $50 service fee and appropriate license plate fee. The service fee can be avoided by surrendering your license plate to the DMV during the 10 day period after receiving a notice of revocation.  So, it appears in your situation you're stuck turning in your plates and waiting 30 days before they will be returned.  During this time you, of course, should not drive.

Whether you received a notice and responded or did not get or respond to a notice, you need to contact the DMV to see if you pay the restoration fees and show current proof of insurance what your options are.

There can be mistakes by DMVs, so if you can show proof of coverage (without a lapse) and they cannot provide proof of mailing the FS 5-7 notice then they must return your plates and not charge you the restoration fee or service fee. This entire procedure puts a lot of un-needed burden on the average, honest driver.

To avoid a lapse of coverage, make certain that you purchase your new insurance policy before canceling your old one. When you are in need of state car insurance rates in North Carolina, comparison shop on CarInsurance.com.

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11 Responses to "Can I keep my plates after a lapse in coverage in North Carolina?"
  1. Eric

    I have a nephew who is 18 and just received points on his license. He has not been driving and his parents do not want to maintain his insurance in North Carolina. We were told that if he has a lapse in coverage that he would not be able to get insurance for a 3 year period because of the points and then dropping the insurance altogether. Is there any validity to this? Are there penalties for dropping insurance after receiving points? Does age factor in? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Jim

    There was a lapse in auto coverage starting the end of June. I wasn't able to reinstate the policy and I just received a letter from the DMV requiring proof of insurance in a week. What is my worst case on fees? Will I be required to go without my car for 30 days? It's my only way to work and I can't take a month off work.

  3. Amy Ramadan

    I am currently overseas and my insurance lapsed. Everything is paid up-to-date as of now, but I was told I will need to do a phone hearing with the DMV. Can anyone tell me what they will ask so that I can be prepared and know what to expect?

  4. Visitor

    My son just turned 18. I want him off my insurance. How can I do this without my payments getting higher? Does it mean I have to keep track track of where he lives or have him to surrender his license? He has no points and I don't either but paying for him and two cars is costing me too much. It's more than my water, lights, and gas put together.

  5. Anonymous

    you the best in information thank you

  6. Anonymous

    We had a lapse in insurance a few months ago. We received a 30-day notice that said to pay $50. We have 2 cars and could not have afforded it. We then received a 10-day letter telling us to surrender our tags, show proof of insurance, or file for a hearing. We turned one cars tags in and are waiting for a hearing for my car. I am so scared and nervous. I was diagnosed with the flu so we couldnt pay med bills and the insurance. we now have 6 months worth of insurance though (we paide for this 2 months after it lapsed. I dont know what to do.

  7. Anonymous

    To the person in Indiana, I dont know when all this posted, but here is how it works. If you were with a company and got insurance on the same day you cancelled, you could have a lapse and not know it. The new company sends an FS-1 to the DMV, then you cancel your old insurance. The old company sends an FS-4 stating you don't have insurance. At that point, you need to call your new insurance company and have them re-file a corrected FS-1 for the start date of your policy, also called the inception date.

  8. Anonymous

    This answer is not completely correct. This is not how it always works. There is no 10 day letter from the DMV. They simply suspend your ability to obtain or keep your license plate. If cops pull you over (they will if they run your tag), then they take the tag and sit on it for a couple of days. What you need to do is turn your tag into DMV ASAP. If the cops took it call a Raleigh number for DMV and make sure they turned it in on time and its recorded properly (the date). The date they recorded it as turned in is when the 30 days you need to wait out starts ticking. There are no $50 fees if you wait the 30 days--all you do is wait 30 days and then buy new insurance and buy a new tag. Thats it. In the meantime, they expect you to walk to work and stuff like that 30 days! Good luck! This answer is the textbook answer, mine is the reality.

    1. unhappy December 02, 2019 at 7:45 AM

      You are so right. I just got off the phone with them and that is what they told me so i have to find a way to work and to school for the next 30 days, meanwhile I work two jobs so i can keep this from ever happening again. the insurance was only lapsed for 12 days until i got paid again... crazy world we live in you can pay the car insurance or your light bill, your choice.

        Reply »  
  9. Anonymous

    I also had a lapse of coverage with another company...I am supposed to pay by the 22nd of this month. I think this is crazy! I have current ins now and admit to having the lapse and have no problems paying it. I just forgot to pay the ins co and that is why I had a lapse. Now I receive this letter 1 day before the money is due and can do nothing about it. Now I have to pay $100.00? I am not happy about this and will be contacting several other departments in regards to this!

  10. Anonymous

    i am in indiana working but i live in nc. my daughter drives my car at home in nc. coming home last night, at a random road block they took my car and plates and sent my daughter home. i have ins and to my recollection have never gone without. i did however switch and would like to prove it. i was hoping to find a way to view my info and fax in the proof to be able to get my car back. she has 2 children, one is 2 and the other is 4 months old and is even uable to go a get them from the babysitter. it this was no fault of my own i am sorely upset. if it is my fault i want to make sure this never happens again. at least by reading your article i have a little info on the situation.

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