Can Your Registration Be Suspended? What Does Suspension of Registration Mean?

Last Updated on May 16, 2021

Vehicle registration suspension is a big deal. When your vehicle registration is suspended, you can no longer legally drive until you renew your registration.

Yes, your registration can be suspended. There are several reasons why your state might suspend vehicle registration.

Every state requires you to register your car to legally drive. When you register your car, you receive a license plate. If your registration is canceled or suspended, then your license plate is no longer valid, which means driving is illegal.

Today, we’re explaining what suspension of registration means, including reasons to suspend registration.

registration suspension

Reasons Car Registration May Be Suspended

Your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may suspend vehicle registration for several reasons.

The most common reasons to suspend registration, however, include:

If you are caught driving without insurance or a license, then the DMV may suspend your vehicle registration immediately.

You don’t have to get pulled over to have your registration suspended. Your insurer might notify the DMV after your insurance lapses. In fact, your insurer is required to notify the DMV if your insurance lapses.

If you fail to pay your car insurance premiums, for example, or do not renew your policy, then your insurer is required to notify the DMV that your insurance has lapsed.

The DMV is required to suspend the registration of your vehicle in the following situations:

  • The registered owner fails to provide evidence of insurance within 30 days after the issuance of a registration card (upon initial registration or transfer of ownership)
  • The DMV has received a notification that the vehicle’s insurance policy has been canceled and no replacement policy has been submitted within 45 days
  • The registered owner obtained registration by providing false evidence of insurance

In many cases, the DMV suspends registration after a driver’s car insurance lapses. If you let your car insurance lapse, then you are required to turn in your registration and license tags in most states. Your insurer is also required to notify the DMV.

Let’s say you failed to renew your insurance policy or did not pay your insurance premiums. If you do not immediately turn in your registration and license tags, then your registration is suspended.

You may be able to avoid registration suspension by providing proof of insurance or proof of license. If you cannot provide either, however, then your registration may be suspended.

What Happens When Vehicle Registration is Suspended?

When your vehicle registration is suspended, neither you nor anyone else can drive that specific vehicle.

Consider it as a ban on driving that specific vehicle. By suspending registration for that vehicle, the DMV is banning you from driving that specific vehicle.

Unlike a license suspension, a registration suspension does not prevent you from driving. If your license is active, then you can continue driving any other vehicle – assuming the other vehicle is insured and registered.

If you continue to drive your vehicle with a suspended registration, then you may face fines, imprisonment, suspension of your driver’s license, and other penalties.

Some drivers try to sell the vehicle to a relative or member of the household. However, this is not permitted: the DMV will know you are trying to get around the registration suspension and will deny your relative or housemate the right to register the car.

Can I Continue Driving After My Registration is Suspended?

If your vehicle registration is suspended, but your license is not suspended, then you may be able to continue driving.

If your vehicle has a suspended registration, for example, then you cannot drive that vehicle. However, if another vehicle valid registration and insurance, then you can continue driving that vehicle as long as your license is still valid.

Having your registration suspended does not stop you from being able to drive other vehicles that have valid registration on them unless your license is also suspended.

How to Reinstate Vehicle Registration After a Suspension

In most states, you can reinstate vehicle registration after a suspension by:

  • Providing proof of insurance
  • Paying a fee

In California, for example, drivers must pay a $14 reinstatement fee and provide proof of insurance.

Contact your insurer to obtain proof of insurance. Or, buy insurance for your vehicle. Once you have documented proof of insurance, you can approach your DMV and have your vehicle registration reinstated.

New Vehicle Registration Could Be Denied

Let’s say your vehicle’s registration has been suspended. You may try to get around this issue by registering the vehicle under someone else’s name.

However, most state DMVs will deny a new registration if the DMV determines that the purpose of the new registration is to avoid a suspension.

Specifically, the DMV will not renew a registration if the new applicant:

  • Has the same last name as the registrant whose registration is suspended
  • Resides at the same address as the registrant whose registration is suspended

Let’s say you were caught driving without insurance. Your vehicle’s registration gets suspended. In response, you try to transfer the registration of the vehicle to your wife. The DMV notices you and your wife have the same last name and live at the same address, so your request to change the registration is denied.

When transferring vehicle registration, you sign a form indicating you are not trying to circumvent a suspended registration. You are required to sign a form verifying that you are not trying to avoid the results from the current suspension, for example.

Ultimately, it’s up to your local DMV to approve or reject the application for vehicle registration.

Final Word on Suspension of Registration

The DMV may suspend vehicle registration for several reasons. If you were caught driving without a license or without insurance, for example, then the DMV may suspend your vehicle registration.

In some cases, the DMV will suspend your license and registration, which means the state is trying to keep you from driving for a specific period of time. If you were caught driving without insurance, for example, then the state may suspend your registration and license.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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