Secretary Johnson: Motorists should have grace period when renewing plate tabs

Renewals online or by mail can face tight deadlines

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson encouraged — on October 17th — lawmakers to approve legislation that would eliminate fears about receiving a ticket for an expired plate tab if motorists waited until the last minute to renew their vehicle registration.

Johnson testified in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in favor of House Bill 4535, sponsored by Rep. Curt VanderWall of Ludington, which gives vehicle owners a 30-day grace period to place their tab on the license plate after they renewed the vehicle’s registration. Motorists have received traffic tickets because they renewed online or by mail and had not yet received their new tab when they were pulled over by law enforcement.

“Michigan residents already can renew their vehicle plates online or by mail right up to the expiration deadline – and even afterward,” Johnson said. “Now we’re making it clear that no tickets should be issued if the person didn’t get the tab in the mail in time.”

The legislation addresses the concerns that motorists are ultimately being penalized for choosing to renew at the end of their renewal cycle and for choosing to renew online or by mail, none of which is illegal. Additionally, recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service’s Michigan operations have contributed to the issue, resulting in longer mail deliveries, including the time it takes to move mail to and from the Secretary of State’s main customer service center in the Lansing area.

“I encourage lawmakers to approve this legislation swiftly so that Secretary of State customers can be confident that their registrations won’t be questioned if they renew on their birthday,” Johnson said. “We want people to hop online, not in line, with our print ‘n go technology, it’s painless. In today’s busy world, it can be easy to leave renewing your tabs until the last minute. provides customers with a convenient way to renew quickly and keep their vehicle registration in compliance.”

Motorists who renew online receive a receipt that can be shown to law enforcement officers to show they have renewed their vehicle registration. Additionally, most law enforcement agencies can verify electronically if the vehicle’s plate has been renewed or is expired.

House Bill 4535 was heard in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today and may be voted on as early as next week.

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