I know what you might be thinking after you read the title of this blog post. You can only have suspended plates if you did something wrong, right? NOPE. Today I wanted to share about how we learned that our plates were suspended on one of our vehicles because of an insurance issue (even though we’ve never had a lapse in insurance). It’s happened to other Illinois residents as well so read on to learn more, including how you can make sure this doesn’t happen to you!
Here’s our story…
Sinisa went to a local currency exchange to renew the plates for the vehicle he drives and was told that the plates were suspended and he had to go to the DMV. He went to our local DMV office where they told him that our plates were suspended because we hadn’t proved that we had insurance on a random day in 2017. Apparently they had sent a letter to our old address (where our car was registered to) requesting proof of insurance for a single day in October of 2017. So since we did not receive the reporting form, we did not send it in, and the plates on our vehicle were suspended.
There’s no way for us to know how long we had suspended plates and if one of us would have gotten pulled over for unknowingly driving with a suspended vehicle registration there could have been penalties. According to the Driver’s Defense Team: “If the state can prove that you were operating a vehicle with invalid registration, the penalties can be quite severe. In most cases, it is treated as a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious offense in Illinois before a felony. This means the judge can impose a sentence of up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500, or both.” Would this happen if you can prove you had insurance and didn’t deserve to have your registration suspended? I don’t know.
Luckily, we discovered this issue on our own and not after getting pulled over or our story may have been very different! In our case, our local DMV office told us we could pay a fine of $100 to “make it go away” or we could drive to another DMV (that offers more services) and show proof of insurance from last October to get our license plate registration unsuspended. Thankfully, we have two vehicles and Sinisa had vacation time to deal with this so we didn’t have to pay an additional $100.
So how can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you?
First, just to be safe, I’d suggest checking your vehicle’s registration on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website just to make sure it’s not suspended. (You can do so here.)
Next, if you have moved since purchasing your vehicle, make sure the address on your vehicle registration is up to date. We mistakenly believed that our registration address was updated automatically when we changed the address on our license but it was not. You have to do this separately.
Lastly, if you get a form requesting proof of insurance send it in immediately so you don’t misplace it or forget about it. According to the IL DMV website: “Enforcement of the mandatory insurance law is accomplished through a random questionnaire sampling process and the issuance of traffic tickets. If the computer randomly selects your vehicle, you will receive a questionnaire asking for the name of your insurance company and policy number. Your answers will be verified with the company you name. If you do not have insurance or fail to return the questionnaire with the requested information, your license plates will be suspended.”
I hope this information is helpful and keeps you from ending up in a similar situation. Please share this post with anyone you know who lives in Illinois!