Texas tosses temporary paper license plates in new legislation

Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A new Texas law tosses out the paper license plate system. This week, Governor Greg Abbott approved a measure that will replace all paper tags with metal ones in two years’ time.

HB 718 will go into effect July 1, 2025, replacing paper tags with metal ones. At that point, car dealers will issue metal plates from the DMV when a vehicle is sold.

The $10 plates will replace the current paper one-trip and 30-day temporary permits.

Law enforcement officials who helped push the bill through the legislature say the current system allows criminals to more easily counterfeit the tags, get access to real ones, sell them, place them on stolen cars or make cars harder to track down.

“It’s something that we had seen before. So, I think that that was one of the things that the lawmakers were trying to do, is to cut a lot of that out. And so, to make it more legit and make it more difficult to try and counterfeit those paper plates,” Sgt. Johnny Bures with the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Officials with the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force say fake tags are a prevalent problem, and the switch to metal would make it harder for criminals to replicate real ones.

Bures says using fake tags for things like smuggling or organized crime is probably more common in the more metro areas. It also allows people to cheat the system when it comes to registration.

“We did see people trying to alter stuff to like, if I can make it look like it doesn’t expire to until next month, then you know, I can save 60 or 70 dollars this month,” Sgt. Bures said.

A spokesperson for the TxDMV says it’s worked with legislators and stakeholders from the start. Adam Shaivitz sent KCBD the following statement:

“The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles worked with legislative offices and stakeholder communities throughout the development of House Bill 718. The department appreciates the numerous amendments and clarifications that were made to address various industry and operational needs while accomplishing the intended goal of the legislation. We are now beginning the process of planning for the successful implementation of the new regulations by the bill’s required deadlines.”

The TxDMV has until December 2024 to create that plan, which will go into effect in July 2025.