A new law allowing vehicle owners to keep the license plate when they sell or trade in a vehicle – and to transfer applicable fees to their replacement vehicle - will take effect next week.
Under current law, the license plate and fees go with the vehicle to the new owner, said Stacey K.
Stanton, director of the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation.
"All Arizona motorists will benefit from the law because it will reduce the number of unregistered, uninsured vehicles, while allowing vehicle owners to use the fees they've already paid," Stanton said.
Thirty states already allow license plates to stay with the owner, rather than go with the vehicle.
"It will be a little confusing at first, but it will be a benefit to motorists when they trade in their vehicle, because fees are prorated by the month and may be applied to a replacement vehicle," ADOT spokeswoman Cydney DeModica said.
Arizona is one of the few states in the nation that charge a vehicle license tax based on the value of the vehicle.
Other states change a flat registration fee of $25 to $50 per year for a passenger car.
Arizona will now be the only state, of those that assess a vehicle tax based on value, to allow owners to keep the license plate and transfer fees to another vehicle, DeModica said.
Joyce Furr, a two-year Kingman resident, said she used to live in Arkansas, where the vehicle license plate always stayed with the owner, not the vehicle.
"I thought it was strange that they didn't do that here," Furr said.
Linda Kaufman, administrative secretary with the city of Kingman, said the new law is a good idea.
But Kaufman, who formerly lived in Ohio, where passenger vehicle owners were charged a flat $30 a year vehicle license fee, said she hopes the division can keep track of all the changes.
Kingman City Clerk Charlene Ware, who is in charge of obtaining vehicle license plates for about 10 vehicles a year, said the new law will have little effect on city vehicles.
"It doesn't apply to the city because they are government vehicles we usually have to remove the plates anyway, but I think it is a good idea," Ware said.
For many years in Arizona, vehicle owners would lose all, or part of, the money paid in vehicle fees if they sold or traded that vehicle before the fees were used up, DeModica said.
But beginning Jan.
1, when an owner sells a vehicle, he or she will sign off on the title as usual and remove the license plate.
Some fees, such as vehicle license tax fees, may then be transferred to a replacement vehicle.
Fees are prorated by the month.
1, vehicle owners can go on-line to view the amount of credit for their vehicle at www.servicearizona.com.
Click on the license plate icon, and plug in vehicle identification or license plate number, and the amount of credit will show on the screen, she said.
If a vehicle is sold and will not be replaced, the license plate must be turned in to the MVD within 30 days.
When a vehicle is purchased from a private party, the purchaser must obtain a three-day restricted use permit before moving the vehicle.
The new owner has 15 days to transfer the title, but he or she may not drive the vehicle during that time, except during the three days.
Permits will be available at MVD offices and on-line at www.servicearizona.com.
When a vehicle is purchased from a licensed vehicle dealer, the dealer will issue a temporary cardboard registration plate and process the MVD paperwork.
For more information, go to the Web site at www.dot.state.az.us and click on Motor Vehicle Division.