Don't "Pass the plate", Keep it

by Jordan Green

When you buy a car in Oklahoma, what happens to the license plate?

Under a newly-approved state law, the seller keeps it.

Senate Bill 1339, which was passed during this year's legislative session at the Oklahoma State Capitol, mandates that motorists keep their license plates when they sell vehicles.

By keeping plates with their owners, law enforcement agencies will be better able to determine who the current owner of a vehicle is: That's the message sent by the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the agency that oversees vehicle registration.

“Starting July, if you sell a vehicle, remove the tag,” said Paula Ross, a spokesperson for the agency. “The tag will now stay with the person, not the car. When motorists purchase a new car, they will take the tag from their old car and place it on the new one. This will assist law enforcement in tracking current vehicle owners as well as cut down on past owners receiving turnpike fines, parking tickets or other issues involving their old vehicle.”

Under the new law, vehicle owners will have to follow new processes for registering their vehicles – and each process is different.

“If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, that car will come with a paper tag, and you will have 30 days to register the vehicle in order to avoid penalties,” Ross said. “When registering the vehicle, you will have a choice of placing your old tag on the vehicle or purchasing a new one from the OTC or your local tag agent.

“If you buy a vehicle from anyone other than a dealership and you do not have a tag from a previous vehicle, the car may be driven for five days without a plate. During these five days, you must have a copy of the bill of sale or the assigned title in the vehicle. If you have a tag from a previous vehicle, you may place the tag on the newly-purchased vehicle after it has been titled and registered. You have 30 days before incurring any penalties.”

Oklahoma motorists will have to carry their annual registration certificates in their vehicles at all times under the new law, the release stated. The certificate is issued when the vehicle is first registered, and it is reissued annually when the registration is renewed.

For more information, visit the OTC's website at