When a car is totaled, there are many questions that come up. One of those questions may be: what happens to the license plates? License plates are required by law in almost every state and serve as a unique identifier for vehicles. After a car is totaled, the fate of the license plates can vary depending on the state laws and policies.
In some states, such as California, the license plates stay with the vehicle. This means that if the car is sold or transferred to another owner, the license plate will go along with it. The new owner will be responsible for registering the car and getting new license plates if necessary. However, if the car is deemed a total loss and is sent to a salvage yard, the license plates will be removed and returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In California, the DMV requires that license plates be surrendered when a vehicle is sold, scrapped, or otherwise disposed of.
In other states, such as New York, the license plates are considered property of the owner and can be transferred to a new vehicle. This means that if a car is totaled, the owner can keep the license plates and use them on a new car. However, if the car is sold or transferred to another owner, the license plates must be removed and surrendered to the DMV.
Some states have different policies for personalized or specialty license plates. In Texas, for example, personalized plates can be transferred to a new vehicle if the owner requests it within 30 days of the sale or transfer of the old vehicle. Specialty plates, such as those for military veterans or first responders, may also be allowed to be transferred to a new vehicle.
It is important to note that regardless of the state policy, license plates must always be surrendered to the DMV if they are no longer needed or if the vehicle is being disposed of. This ensures that the plates cannot be used fraudulently or illegally.
In addition to state policies, there are also federal regulations surrounding license plates. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that all new vehicles be equipped with a unique vehicle identification number (VIN) and a visible license plate. The VIN is used to track the vehicle’s history, including accidents and repairs, while the license plate serves as a way to identify the vehicle on the road.
When a car is totaled, the VIN and license plate are still important pieces of information that can be used by law enforcement and insurance companies. The DMV may keep records of the license plate and VIN for a period of time, which can be helpful in case of any legal or insurance issues that arise later on.
In conclusion, the fate of license plates after a car is totaled can vary depending on the state laws and policies. Some states require the plates to be surrendered to the DMV, while others allow the owner to keep the plates and transfer them to a new vehicle. Regardless of the policy, it is important to always surrender the plates if they are no longer needed or if the vehicle is being disposed of. This ensures that the plates cannot be used illegally and that they are properly recorded in case of any legal or insurance issues.