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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.