Car Licensing Question

This could go in GQ because there is probably a factual answer, but It also can be up for a bit of speculation (plus it could be considered legal advise) so I’m putting it here.

My mom decided she was no longer in good enough shape to drive. I’m so glad she realized it before we had to take away her keys. Anyway, I’m going to fly down in a week or so and drive the car back. I’ll be going from North Carolina to Indiana.

I originally thought I would just drive it back and then mail the plate back to her but for some reason she doesn’t want to do that. I have a car that will be sitting in my driveway in Indiana and not driven… can I take the license plate off of that to drive it back? It is registered in my name and I will have a signed title for the car, but obviously if someone runs the plate it will not match the car.

What is the best way to get it back so I can register it here?

Drive it with the plate that’s on it now. Your mother has no need for it. All she needs to do is cancel her insurance (after you get your own insurance on it), and ignore the next registration renewal notice she gets.

If she wants to keep the plate for a souvenir, as some people like to do (I used to), then mail or FedEx it back whether she likes it or not, or bring it with you the next time you visit. You’re setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary trouble if you get pulled over with plates that don’t belong to the vehicle. Even if they’re both separately legal.

They’ll likely impound the vehicle in some random county 270 miles from your house if they catch you. My vote is also to drive it with the plates assigned to it.

No plates are better than what my state calls, “Fictitious Plates”. (plates on the wrong car)

If you have to, have mom sign over the title, go to the DMV and get a temporary movement permit. Your states may vary.

Drive your mother’s car back to Indiana. Register it in Indiana. Leave the old plates at the DMV.

Personally I’d call my insurance agent and find out what my options are. Any decent agent should be able to break it down for you.

If I understand this correctly, it sounds like your mother (for some reason) is insisting that you take the plates off her car and leave them with her. If that is the case, you need to firmly explain to her that you would be in danger of getting arrested with no plates or the wrong plates on the car. You’re driving across several states and it would be just asking for trouble.

The way most states work, the seller sends in a report that releases their liability for the car BUT the car is still in their name until the buyer actually gets around to registering it.

So what’ll happen is your mother will fill out the title transfer part of the title, but the title won’t actually be transfered until you get to your local DMV and hand it to them. North Carolina may have a separate thing the seller is supposed to send in to release them from liability (which may be attached to the title, may be a separate form you get from the DMV, or you may be able to do it online.) However, filling out the seller’s report doesn’t transfer the title. The seller’s report also starts the clock ticking for how soon the buyer has to register the car, usually something like 15-30 days. If they get caught after that they’re in deep doo-doo but they can usually still drive around with the old plates until then no problem.

So, long story short, your mother signs the title over to you (and maybe sends in the seller’s report) but the car will remain registered to her during your drive home. If she were selling it to some random out-of-state weirdo, she might want to take the plates and make them get a temporary tag but in theory the seller’s report should absolve her of any responsibility even though the car technically remains in her name until the buyer transfers it. For your situation, though, I assume your mother should probably trust you.

(I can’t guarantee the above is true since I’m not familiar with the two states in question, but I have done much interstate vehicle wheeling-dealing and in every state combination I’ve dealt with it’s been something similar.)

Also, drive like you have an open container. If you don’t get stopped, you don’t have a problem. :wink:

Since the vehicle is registered in your name and you have the signed title, register the vehicle in IN before your leave and take the new plates DMV will issue with you.

Car registration laws can vary widely by state, so check the rules online (for both states). In NY for example you are required to surrender your plates after cancelling the insurance, and they can charge you a ‘per day’ fine for each day you don’t. Different municipalities also can have laws regarding having an unregistered vehicle on your property.

Drive her to the DMV. Have her transfer the car to you. Walk into the DMV and register it in your name, and get your own plates. Drive your mom home and drop her off. Then drive it to your home.

This will cost more, as you will presumably need to re-register in your own state. But it’s extremely “clean”, legally.

She can, of course, lend you the car until you drive it home, and then transfer it to you. That’s cheaper, and also perfectly legal. But it sounds like she doesn’t want to do that for whatever reason.