2020 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 2 - Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicles
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 40-2-5. Unlawful Actions Relating to License Plate; Use of Expired Prestige License Plate

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-2-5 (2020)
  1. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, it shall be unlawful:
    1. To remove or transfer a license plate from the motor vehicle for which such license plate was issued;
    2. To sell or otherwise transfer or dispose of a license plate upon or for use on any motor vehicle other than the vehicle for which such license plate was issued;
    3. To buy, receive, use, or possess for use on a motor vehicle any license plate not issued for use on such motor vehicle; or
    4. To operate a motor vehicle bearing a license plate which was improperly removed or transferred from another vehicle.
  2. Any person who shall knowingly violate any provision of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500.00 or by confinement for not more than 12 months, or both.
  3. It shall not be unlawful for any person to place an expired prestige license plate on the front of a motor vehicle provided that such vehicle also bears a current valid license plate on the rear of such vehicle.

(Ga. L. 1918, p. 264, §§ 1, 2; Code 1933, § 68-9916; Ga. L. 1966, p. 10, § 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 1657, § 2; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 2.)

Law reviews.

- For note on 1990 amendment of this Code section, see 7 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 329 (1990).


Revalidation decal not covered by statute.

- Although the revalidation decal found on the defendant's vehicle had been stolen from another vehicle the prior month, the offense of use of a license plate to conceal the identity of a vehicle in O.C.G.A. § 40-2-5 covered license plates but not revalidation decals; and there was no evidence that the license plate on the defendant's vehicle was removed or transferred from another vehicle, or that the defendant committed any other act addressed in the statute. Kea v. State, 344 Ga. App. 251, 810 S.E.2d 152 (2018).

Traffic stop based on suspicion of license plate violation.

- Trial court did not err in denying motions to supress filed by the two defendants because the officer: (1) had a reasonable and sufficient basis for initiating a traffic stop of the car the defendants were traveling in based on a belief that the license plate on the subject vehicle might have belonged on another car, and hence, was illegally transferred; and (2) did not improperly prolong the stop once the defendants told conflicting stories of the defendants' travels and one declined to grant the officer consent to search. Andrews v. State, 289 Ga. App. 679, 658 S.E.2d 126 (2008), cert. denied, No. S08C0963, 2008 Ga. LEXIS 507 (Ga. 2008).

Lesser included offenses.

- Misdemeanor offense of affixing to a vehicle a license plate not authorized for use on that vehicle is not a lesser included offense of the felony of using a motor vehicle license plate upon a vehicle for which the plate was not issued. Dismuke v. State, 142 Ga. App. 381, 236 S.E.2d 12 (1977).

Nondisclosure that vehicle was rebuilt.

- When the certificate of title which defendant obtained for automobile did not disclose on the title's face that the vehicle had been rebuilt, the jury was authorized to conclude that the defendant had knowingly concealed or misrepresented the identity thereof. Martin v. State, 160 Ga. App. 275, 287 S.E.2d 244 (1981).

Jury to decide tag issue.

- Court of Appeals of Georgia rejected a defendant's sufficiency of the evidence challenge as it was for the jury to accept or reject the defendant's explanations as to whether the operation of a Mercury bearing a Ford tag was improper and knowing. Rylee v. State, 288 Ga. App. 784, 655 S.E.2d 239 (2007).

Rule of lenity did not apply.

- Because the defendant was convicted and sentenced for a violation of No. S08C0963, O.C.G.A. § 40-2-5, and not of a violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-2-7, for the single and distinct offense of operating a motor vehicle bearing an improper tag, the Court of Appeals of Georgia had no occasion to apply the rule of lenity. Rylee v. State, 288 Ga. App. 784, 655 S.E.2d 239 (2007).

Cited in Flynn v. State, 88 Ga. App. 709, 77 S.E.2d 559 (1953); Daniel v. State, 118 Ga. App. 370, 163 S.E.2d 863 (1968); Walker v. State, 130 Ga. App. 860, 205 S.E.2d 49 (1974); Rogers v. State, 185 Ga. App. 211, 363 S.E.2d 846 (1987); Northern v. State, 285 Ga. App. 303, 645 S.E.2d 701 (2007).



- Civil rights and liabilities as affected by failure to comply with regulations as to registration of automobile or motorcycle, or licensing of operator, 54 A.L.R. 374.

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