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.