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Keeping tags after North Carolina car insurance lapsed?


Question: I live in North Carolina and my auto insurance lapsed. They are telling me my tags are revoked and I need my car to get back and forth to work. I will pay a fine if I need to. Can I keep my tags?

Answer: Most states take financial responsibility for vehicles driven on their roadways, usually shown by drivers in the form of a car insurance policy, very seriously. This is why they have penalties such as revocation of license or tags when you are found to be without auto insurance.

When you change insurance carriers or have a lapse in coverage many states require the car insurance company is to notify the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, if you have a lapse in you will be sent an "FS 5-7 Notice," which you need to respond to within 10 days. To retain your license plate you must re-certify with correct insurance information (this means the car must have proof of current insurance) and submit a payment of $50 within the given 10 day limit.

Failure to respond within the 10 days will result in the loss of your license plate (tags) for 30 days. After those 30 days, to get your plates back you must:

  • Provide proof of insurance coverage Form FS-1 (which you must obtain from your car insurance agent)
  • Pay a $50 civil penalty fee (or it could be $100 or $150 if this is not your first lapse in coverage)
  • Pay a $50 service fee
  • Pay the appropriate license plate fee

You should be able to keep your tags if you follow the instructions above. 

Remember that you need a North Carolina car insurance policy in place before you can get your license tags returned. Compare insurance companies to evaluate different rates. Keep continuous coverage on your vehicle so that you won't end up with these issues again in the future.

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15 Responses to "Keeping tags after North Carolina car insurance lapsed?"
  1. Mark Guard

    Let's say I sell my vehicle on a Saturday, and I go to the bank with the buyer and we have the title notarized and the buyer pays for the vehicle. Does NC law stipulate that I hold the tags and keep insurance while another person takes possession of the vehicle and could become involved in an accident? So is NC increasing my exposure and risk in lawsuits? A court ruling should be in the seller's favor because the seller is forced to insure and hold tag for the purpose of obeying the law and for the purpose of avoiding a civil penalty. Therefore, NC is liable for any mistake in justice by the buyer. This is the ruling of court by my understanding.

  2. jermichael Richardson

    My wife and I have a difference in opinion. Help settle a dispute. I say that you have to contact the DMV at any point that you lose or lapse insurance, she thinks you don't have to.

  3. Kathy

    What is a reason you would have to turn your tags in on a car that has always had insurance on it in North Carolina? My son had a call from a bill collector that my son needs to pay a fine for not turning in the tag.

  4. Visitor

    How the hell did it become a law that we have to carry insurance?

  5. Visitor

    Didn't really answer the question. NC has the worst laws. Why not a temp tag with a fee? I had a wreck one time and the driver had no insurance at all and I get tagged for paying late once in 38 years? Really?

  6. Visitor

    Even a Drunk Driver can retain their driving privileges after being caught- they at least get a "Cinderella" license to get back and forth to work. I don't agree AT ALL with taking the tags. In this economy it's difficult to keep up with all financial obligations. Maybe if it is a repeat offense, but all situations are different. I have no choice but to continue to drive with "revoked" tags- I'm self-employed and need my vehicle to pay the bills.

  7. Anonymous

    The system is jacked up period!

  8. Anonymous

    So how do they expect you to get back and forth from school and work? I understand the revocation of the tags but if I have to turn my tags in for 30 days what do they expect me to do?

  9. Anonymous

    These laws are not enforced to help us at all. I can understand the penalty however, a temporary tag needs to be issued we still have to go to work and provide for our families. We need to know what happens after the tags have been rovoked.

  10. Anonymous

    this is exactly what has to happen in order to keep your tags. the author even tells how to get it back at the end of the post.

  11. Anonymous

    this seems to be a terrible set of laws and looks to be designed to drive people under and keep them there. by the way, you only described what happens. and does the 30 day revocation period start the day after the 10 day deadline or the day of? also, i got this letter in the mail months after my deadline. is there anything i can do to contest it?

  12. Anonymous

    do they issue a temporary tag of any kind during the 30 day lapse

  13. Anonymous

    This explains what to do to keep your plates from being revoked not what you can do afterwards.

  14. Anonymous

    He asked if there was a way to keep his tags because he needed to be able to get to work. Didn't really answer that.

    1. unknown October 06, 2012 at 4:53 AM

      Go to your local DMV and have them give you the phone number to request a hearing case for lapse of coverage. This will give you a chance to straighten things out. As soon as you call them they will make it so your plates are temporarily legal until the date of your hearing (if you are granted one).

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