2021 Georgia Code
Title 40 - Motor Vehicles and Traffic
Chapter 2 - Registration and Licensing of Motor Vehicles
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 40-2-8. Operation of Unregistered Vehicle or Vehicle Without Current License Plate, Revalidation Decal, or County Decal; Temporary Plate Issued by Dealers of New or Used Motor Vehicles

Universal Citation: GA Code § 40-2-8 (2021)
  1. Any person owning or operating any vehicle described in Code Section 40-2-20 on any public highway or street without complying with that Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, provided that a person shall register his or her motor vehicle within 30 days after becoming a resident of this state. Any person renting, leasing, or loaning any vehicle described in Code Section 40-2-20 which is being used on any public highway or street without complying with that Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of $100.00 for each violation; and each day that such vehicle is operated in violation of Code Section 40-2-20 shall be deemed to be a separate and distinct offense.
    1. Reserved.
      1. It shall be a misdemeanor to operate any vehicle required to be registered in the State of Georgia without a valid numbered license plate properly validated, unless such operation is otherwise permitted under this chapter; and provided, further, that the purchaser of a new vehicle or a used vehicle from a dealer of new or used motor vehicles who displays a temporary plate issued as provided by subparagraph (B) of this paragraph may operate such vehicle on the public highways and streets of this state without a current valid license plate during the period within which the purchaser is required by Code Section 40-2-20. An owner acquiring a motor vehicle from an entity that is not a new or used vehicle dealer shall register such vehicle as provided for in Code Section 40-2-29 unless such vehicle is to be registered under the International Registration Plan pursuant to Article 3A of this chapter.
        1. Any dealer of new or used motor vehicles shall issue to the purchaser of a vehicle at the time of sale thereof, unless such vehicle is to be registered under the International Registration Plan, a temporary plate as provided for by department rules or regulations which may bear the dealer's name and location and shall bear an expiration date 45 days from the date of purchase. The expiration date of such a temporary plate may be revised and extended by the county tag agent upon application by the dealer, the purchaser, or the transferee if an extension of the purchaser's initial registration period has been granted as provided by Code Section 40-2-20. Such temporary plate shall not resemble a license plate issued by this state and shall be issued without charge or fee. The requirements of this subparagraph shall not apply to a dealer whose primary business is the sale of salvage motor vehicles and other vehicles on which total loss claims have been paid by insurers.
        2. All temporary plates issued by dealers to purchasers of vehicles shall be of a standard design prescribed by regulation promulgated by the department. The department may provide by rule or regulation for the sale and distribution of such temporary plates by third parties in accordance with paragraph (3) of this subsection.
    2. All sellers and distributors of temporary license plates shall maintain an inventory record of temporary license plates by number and name of the dealer.
    3. The purchaser and operator of a vehicle shall not be subject to the penalties set forth in this Code section during the period allowed for the registration of such vehicle. If the owner of such vehicle presents evidence that such owner has properly applied for the registration of such vehicle, but that the license plate or revalidation decal has not been delivered to such owner, then the owner shall not be subject to the penalties enumerated in this subsection.
  2. It shall be unlawful and punishable as for a misdemeanor to operate any vehicle required to be registered in the State of Georgia without a valid county decal designating the county where the vehicle was last registered, unless such operation is otherwise permitted under this chapter. Any person convicted of such offense shall be punished by a fine of $25.00 for a first offense and $100.00 for a second or subsequent such offense. However, a county name decal shall not be required if there is no space provided for a county name decal on the current license plate.

(Ga. L. 1927, p. 226, § 8; Ga. L. 1931, p. 7, § 84; Ga. L. 1931, p. 213, § 2; Code 1933, §§ 68-214, 68-9901; Ga. L. 1943, p. 341, § 4; Ga. L. 1953, Nov.-Dec. Sess., p. 343, Part 1, § 1; Ga. L. 1969, p. 266, § 3; Ga. L. 1977, p. 1039, § 1; Ga. L. 1980, p. 746, § 1; Ga. L. 1981, p. 714, § 4; Ga. L. 1982, p. 1584, §§ 2, 5; Ga. L. 1986, p. 1053, § 1; Ga. L. 1990, p. 2048, § 2; Ga. L. 1992, p. 2785, § 1.3; Ga. L. 1993, p. 1260, § 1; Ga. L. 1995, p. 809, § 1; Ga. L. 1996, p. 1118, § 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 419, § 3; Ga. L. 1998, p. 1179, § 3; Ga. L. 2000, p. 523, § 1; Ga. L. 2001, p. 1173, § 1-1; Ga. L. 2002, p. 415, § 40; Ga. L. 2004, p. 631, § 40; Ga. L. 2005, p. 321, § 1/HB 455; Ga. L. 2005, p. 334, § 14-2/HB 501; Ga. L. 2010, p. 143, § 2/HB 1005; Ga. L. 2011, p. 479, § 10.1/HB 112; Ga. L. 2012, p. 804, § 1/HB 985; Ga. L. 2013, p. 141, § 40/HB 79; Ga. L. 2018, p. 287, § 2/HB 329; Ga. L. 2020, p. 669, § 1/HB 819.)

The 2018 amendment, effective July 1, 2019, in division (b)(2)(B)(i), substituted "bear an expiration date 45 days from the date of purchase" for "bear the expiration date of the period within which the purchaser is required by Code Section 40-2-20 to register such vehicle" at the end of the first sentence and substituted "shall not apply" for "do not apply" in the middle of the last sentence; and added "of such vehicle" at the end of the first sentence of paragraph (b)(4).

The 2020 amendment, effective August 4, 2020, substituted "Reserved." for "Any vehicle operated in the State of Georgia which is required to be registered and which does not have attached to the rear thereof a numbered license plate and current revalidation decal affixed to a corner or corners of the license plate as designated by the commissioner, if required, shall be stored at the owner's risk and expense by any law enforcement officer of the State of Georgia, unless such operation is otherwise permitted by this chapter." in paragraph (b)(1).

Cross references.

- Jurisdiction over offenses under this Code section, § 40-13-22.

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 1995, p. 809, § 22, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "Any local law enacted pursuant to Code Section 40-2-21, which is in conflict with the provisions of this Act shall stand repealed on the effective date of this Act." The act became effective January 1, 1997.

Ga. L. 1996, p. 1118, § 17, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "Any local Act enacted pursuant to Code Section 40-2-21 which is in conflict with the provisions of this Act shall stand repealed on the effective date on this Act; provided, however, that any local Act enacted in 1996 pursuant to the provisions of Code Section 40-2-21 as enacted by Act No. 385, Ga. L. 1995, which local Act provides for a four-month staggered registration period for a county, shall not be repealed by the provisions of this Act, but the registration period for such county shall be as provided by subparagraph (a)(1)(B) of Code Section 40-2-21 as enacted by this Act and not as provided in such local Act."

Ga. L. 1996, p. 1118, § 18, not codified by the General Assembly, provides: "Those parts of Act No. 385, Ga. L. 1995, an act amending Chapter 2 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to registration and licensing of motor vehicles, and amending Article 10 of Chapter 5 of Title 48 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to ad valorem taxation of motor vehicles and mobile homes, approved April 19, 1995, in conflict with this Act are repealed."

Law reviews.

- For article commenting on the 1997 amendment of this Code section, see 14 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 215 (1997).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Jurisdiction of federal court.

- O.C.G.A. §§ 9-4-1,9-5-1,40-2-8,40-3-6,40-3-21, and48-2-59 provide plaintiff challenging automobile "title transfer fee" with "plain, speedy and efficient" pre-tax and post-tax remedies by which a taxpayer could challenge the constitutional validity of a state tax, and so satisfied the criteria of the Tax Injunction Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1341, so as to bar jurisdiction of the federal court. Johnsen v. Collins, 875 F. Supp. 1571 (S.D. Ga. 1994).

Vehicle in custody not subject to levy and sale.

- Vehicle being in custody of the law while held pursuant to former Code 1933, §§ 68-214 and 68-9901 (see O.C.G.A. § 40-2-8), a levy of execution by a sheriff was void and no valid sale could be made pursuant thereto. Oxford v. Sanders, 217 Ga. 820, 125 S.E.2d 483 (1962).

Investigatory stops for registration law violations.

- Stopping a car with a drive-out tag solely to ascertain whether the driver was complying with Georgia's vehicle registration laws is not authorized; Burtts v. State, 211 Ga. App. 840, 440 S.E.2d 727 (1994) is expressly overruled along with any other cases which would authorize a traffic stop solely because a vehicle was being operated with a dealer's drive-out tag. Bius v. State, 254 Ga. App. 634, 563 S.E.2d 527 (2002).

Investigative stop justified.

- Police officer was justified in approaching defendant to determine if the operation of defendant's vehicle with an expired out-of-state tag was in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-2-8. Jordan v. State, 223 Ga. App. 176, 477 S.E.2d 583 (1996).

Trial court properly denied the defendant's motion to suppress as the search was valid under Ga. Const. 1983, Art. I, Sec. I, Para. XIII; the officer stopped the defendant based on a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was driving with an invalid drive-out tag in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-2-8, and the defendant's tag was suspicious because the tag did not have a strip on the bottom to prevent tampering with the expiration date. Green v. State, 282 Ga. App. 5, 637 S.E.2d 498 (2006).

State need not prove period of residence.

- Allegation that the defendant had resided in the state for a period of 30 days or more was mere surplusage, and failure to prove the allegation did not constitute a fatal variance. Gibson v. State, 187 Ga. App. 769, 371 S.E.2d 413, cert. denied, 187 Ga. App. 907, 371 S.E.2d 413 (1988).

State need not prove current owner of vehicle.

- State presented sufficient evidence that the defendant had operated a motor vehicle with an expired Mississippi tag on a public street of Georgia in violation of O.C.G.A. § 40-2-8(a). Although the evidence did not show to whom the vehicle had been registered in Mississippi or whether the defendant had recently purchased the vehicle, the statute did authorize a finding that, regardless of who the current owner of the vehicle might actually be, the vehicle was not an automobile which was otherwise exempt from the requirement of registration in this state. Keyser v. State, 187 Ga. App. 95, 369 S.E.2d 309, cert. denied, 187 Ga. App. 908, 369 S.E.2d 309 (1988).

Traffic stop for compliance not unreasonably prolonged.

- As an officer's questioning of the defendant after a traffic stop about the defendant's length of time in Georgia was done to determine whether the defendant was in compliance with O.C.G.A. §§ 40-2-8(a) and40-5-20(a), and did not unreasonably prolong the stop, the defendant's rights under U.S. Const., amend. IV were not violated. Therefore, methamphetamine seized from the defendant's purse during the stop did not have to be suppressed. Sommese v. State, 299 Ga. App. 664, 683 S.E.2d 642 (2009).

Evidence sufficient to sustain conviction.

- Because the defendant admittedly lacked a driver's license, the tag on the car being driven was expired, and the defendant produced no evidence that the car had been recently purchased, and thus fell within the initial 30-day registration period during which a numbered license plate was not required, defendant's convictions were upheld on appeal. Arellano v. State, 289 Ga. App. 148, 656 S.E.2d 264 (2008).

Evidence insufficient for conviction of driving without current license plate.

- Testimony by officers that defendant's car had a temporary dealer tag was insufficient to support the charge of driving without a current license plate because the state presented no evidence that the tag on the car was not a valid temporary tag issued by a dealer at the time of sale. Brackins v. State, 249 Ga. App. 788, 549 S.E.2d 775 (2001).

Cited in Undercofler v. White, 113 Ga. App. 853, 149 S.E.2d 845 (1966); Garner v. State, 154 Ga. App. 839, 269 S.E.2d 912 (1980); Wilder v. State, 192 Ga. App. 891, 386 S.E.2d 685 (1989); Burtts v. State, 211 Ga. App. 840, 440 S.E.2d 727 (1994).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Vehicles registered in another state required to obtain Georgia use permit.

- Vehicles traveling in Georgia, registered in another state where the fees imposed are of such a nature as to be considered merely registration fees, should be required to obtain a Georgia highway use permit and identification tags and stickers pertinent thereto. 1954-56 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 477.

Mail order applicant not penalized until April 2, or 15 days after money order issued.

- Mail order applicant cannot be subjected to civil penalties until April 2, or until the expiration of 15 days after the date of a proper money order receipt issued on or before April 1, whichever is later. 1958-59 Op. Att'y Gen. p. 209.

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 7A Am. Jur. 2d, Automobiles and Highway Traffic, §§ 60, 67, 84, 256 et seq. 21 Am. Jur. 2d, Criminal Law, §§ 1, 5, 19, 26 et seq.

C.J.S.

- 60 C.J.S., Motor Vehicles, §§ 196, 282. 61A C.J.S., Motor Vehicles, § 1628 et seq.

ALR.

- Civil rights and liabilities as affected by failure to comply with regulations as to registration of automobile or motorcycle, or licensing of operator, 16 A.L.R. 1108; 35 A.L.R. 62; 38 A.L.R. 1038; 43 A.L.R. 1153; 54 A.L.R. 374; 58 A.L.R. 532; 61 A.L.R. 1190; 78 A.L.R. 1028; 87 A.L.R. 1469; 111 A.L.R. 1258; 163 A.L.R. 1375.

Applicability of motor vehicle regulations to public officials or employees, 23 A.L.R. 418.

Improper use of automobile license plates as affecting liability or right to recover for injuries, death, or damages in consequence of automobile accident, 99 A.L.R.2d 904.

What constitutes plain, speedy, and efficient state remedy under Tax Injunction Act (28 USCS § 1341), prohibiting federal district courts from interfering with assessment, levy, or collection of state business taxes, 31 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 237.

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