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New Washington law cracks down on newcomers who don’t register vehicles

Moving to Seattle can be an expensive prospect if you don’t register your vehicle quickly. A new law is hoping to convince newcomers to obtain a Washington state driver’s license and re-register their vehicles locally.

The new law creates an incentive program than ultimately reduces the fine. Previously violators could be fined up to $1,529 for the first offense for not registering within 30 days, but now that fine can be reduced if they go to court, pay a $500 fine, and take care of the license and registration within 90 days.

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“They are cracking down by in effect loosening things up,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “If you get caught with an out-of-state driver’s driver’s license or license plate up until now you are dinged $1,500.

“That’s a steep a fine, and they say a lot of Washington state patrolmen and women don’t like to levy that fine,” he said. “They’re a little hesitant … They’re hoping that this will get more Washington state patrol officers to issue the citations and force their hand.”

The law was sponsored by state Senator Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.

“If there are people out there that have been here for a while, it’s better to go pay the fees than be pulled over and face a fine,” Sen. Wilson told The Seattle Times, citing a 2007 study by Washington State University that determined there were approximately 20,000 cars in Clark County with non-local license plates. King County doesn’t have numbers on this.

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Why the sudden urgency? Apparently the state loses millions in fees from newcomers not registering their vehicles, who often exceed the time limit and are afraid of the large fines.

“The new Washington law aims to encourage newcomers to properly register their vehicles so they can get ripped off by light rail,” joked co-host John Curley.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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