Tag Archives: license tab

When license tabs expire

The in basket: Paul Drnjevic of Bremerton recently came to the realization that a person can be cited for an expired license registration after the day of the month shown on the registration form, not just from the first day of the month after the month shown on the tab.

He thinks a lot of car owners are of the opposite impression, especially since that’s the way it used to be. He has no objection to spreading the expiration dates throughout each month, to avoid long lines at renewal centers, but thinks the renewal forms should make more of a point about the date after which one is risking a ticket.

If you get pulled over for some other reason between the expiration date and the end of that month, it can cost you extra money.

The out basket: Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing says, “I did a little research and discovered that until January 1977, all vehicle registrations were based on a calendar year and they all expired on Dec. 31 of a given year. “In 1977, vehicle registration renewal dates

were distributed throughout all 12 months of the year. When the state went to this system, expiration dates were on the last day of the month of expiration.

“Then, sometime between 1987 and 1990, DOL began assigning

registration expiration dates that corresponded with the particular

calendar date the vehicle was first registered. So, we’ve been operating under our current process for more than 20 years.

“As for noting the particular expiration date on renewal notices and

registration certificates, we have always done that. We specifically

include the expiration date in a MM/DD/YYYY format,” Brad said. The department would be reluctant to further complicate the already busy forms with a specific warning about the enforcement date when the public has had more than 20 years of experience with the way it is, he said.

License weight fees and motorcycles


The in basket: Mark Ross e-mailed to say, “I recently received my reminder to renew the tabs, (well, technically, tab), on my motorcycle and was surprised to note a weight-based fee of $10 in the Vehicle Licensing Breakdown.  Now, granted, I am not riding a Vespa, but seriously, how much wear and tear can my fair-weather ride really be causing on the public roadway?”

Terry Miller was more obviously annoyed in another recent e-mail on the subject of the growth in the cost of renewing tabs. 

“As the economy gets worse,” he said, “our state and local government keep adding to our burdens of increased taxes. If you have recently renewed your tabs you should know this.

“A foot in the door that worked was ‘tonnage’ fees for larger vehicles and trucks— most people said they understood and kept quiet.”  Now all vehicles have a tonnage fee, even motorcycles, he added.

The out basket: I was surprised to learn that the weight fees were assessed against motorcycles, but I guess I shouldn’t have been.  The law that imposes the fee sets it at $10 for vehicles weighing 4,000 pounds or less, and doesn’t exempt two-wheel vehicles. 

Examples the state chose to include in its “Making Every Dollar Count” brochure on the impact of the fee don’t mention motorcycles, but do show that vehicles up to a Jeep Grand Cherokee at 3,900 pounds fall into the lower tier.

It goes up from there to $20 extra on vehicles of 4,001 to 6,000 pounds, (Lincoln’s Town Car and Navigator and Buick’s Roadmaster are the examples chosen) and $30 more for 6,001 to 8,000 pounds (Hummers and Ford Excursions, for example).  All motor homes pay $75, whatever they weigh. 

It was part of the 2005 transportation revenue package that also bumped the state gas tax by 9.5 cents over four years. The weight fee has been added to the cost of tabs for the past 3 1/2 years and has contributed to the revenue that paid for Highway 16 HOV lanes and the changes at the Highway16-Interstate 5 interchange in Tacoma, among other projects statewide.

The upward pressure on tab fees continues to increase, with Bremerton’s city council debating whether to use a local option authority the Legislature has provided that could add $20 to the fee for city residents. They don’t have to put it to a citizen vote, but might  The money would head off the growing deterioration of city streets. 

And a subtle change is coming this summer in the optional $5 tab fee add-on to support state parks. That’s the subject of the next Road Warrior.