What happens if I got a ticket for expired registration?

If you got a ticket for driving your car with expired registration, consider yourself fortunate – this is one of the most innocuous tickets you can possibly receive (unless you’re broke and can’t afford to renew your registration ever – then you’re screwed).  But assuming you just haven’t gotten around to renewing your registration yet because you’re waiting for that check to clear or simply because you’re a slacker, then this ticket will be an easy one to handle.

Whether you hire an attorney to go to court for you, or you decide to take care of it yourself, the beauty of these tickets is that upon getting your registration paid and up to date, the judge will usually dismiss this ticket completely – even though you were in fact driving with expired registration.

You heard me right.  Under the California Vehicle Code section 4000(a)(4), you cannot be charged with driving without registration before “the first day of the second month following the month of expiration of the vehicle’s registration.”  In practice, judges usually go even further than what the grace period allows and will dismiss a no registration ticket even several months after the grace period expires, upon proof of valid current registration.

Remember that driving without valid registration is different than driving without valid insurance.  If you receive a ticket for driving without proof of valid insurance, proof of current insurance will only potentially reduce your fees, but not dismissing the charge entirely.  That’s right – driving without proof of insurance is a much bigger deal than driving without valid registration.  If charged with driving without proof of insurance (Vehicle Code 16028 (a) ), you can get the charge dismissed later in court only if you can prove your insurance was valid at the time of the citation.  If not, proof of later obtained insurance may only help to reduce your fees, but not dismiss the charge entirely.