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Many drivers forgetting to update plates

Alton Telegraph

Thursday, August 4, 2022  |  Article  |  Dave Dawson

The confusion about services offered at the driver services facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has grown since 2020 when many services were suspended, and deadlines extended because of COVID-19.


Most recently, Illinois driver's licenses, instruction permits and identification cards that have an expiration date between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 1 of this year have been extended until Dec. 1, 2022. Commercial driver's licenses and commercial learner's permits were excluded from this extension.


The extension also does not apply to license plate sticker renewals. Also, the state stopped mailing vehicle registration renewal reminder notices in 2015 to save money.


"Extended deadlines were instituted for license plate stickers during the first year of COVID," said Dave Druker, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office. "We didn't extend deadlines further because we didn't seem to be having problems."


With sticker renewal fees at $151 annually, being a month late increases the cost of tags by $20 because of late fees, Druker said.


"If law enforcement catches you and you are convicted, the fine is $164, but it gets complicated because some municipalities have a lower fee," Druker said. "The fine could be lower depending on the municipality because local ordinances can supersede state law."


While more people may be driving around with expired tags, Jacksonville Police Chief Adam Mefford believes the problem is in the process of fixing itself.


"A lot of this started when the secretary of state offices were shut down and the governor put a stay on registrations," Mefford said. "A lot of people were allowed to have their plate stickers expire. We are still in the catching-up phase."


Mefford said if an officer comes upon an expired plate, they will run it to see if it comes back valid. Sometimes the sticker has fallen off or it hasn’t been put on by the motorist, he said.


"If the plate is in fact expired, a ticket is at the officer's discretion. Typically, it will only be a warning to get a sticker," Mefford said. "We have leeway, but generally will write tickets only for egregious violations and when there is no good explanation for it."


Another point of confusion has been the generic "23" sticker issued by the state.


"Our sticker producer was unable to provide 2023 stickers in the usual format, which allows our office to individually print information on the sticker," Druker said. "Our office purchased the only type of sticker that was available. The green stickers don't reflect the date. We are still using the temporary stickers but hope to resolve that soon."


Mefford said the "23" stickers are not ideal.


"We have to run each of them," Mefford said. "With technology today, any questions on registrations can be answered right away."


Druker said drivers can go to ilsos.gov to sign up to receive license plate sticker renewal notices by email. The site also provides access to renew stickers online.