Unregistered Motor Vehicle
Unregistered Motor Vehicle Law and Penalties
Florida Statute §320.02(1) requires every vehicle owner “or person in charge” to register his or her motor vehicle with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Simply put, you need to get a valid registration from the DMV. The only exemptions from the registration requirement are vehicles that are not actually operated, or vehicles that are not considered motor vehicles as defined by Florida Statute §320.01(1). The content to be included in the registration is outlined in §320.02(2) – personal or business address and personal or business identification information. A violation of the registration requirement is a second degree misdemeanor punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
An Unregistered Motor Vehicle Charge: What Happens
A charge for Unregistered Motor Vehicle usually arises when a police officer pulls you over for an alleged moving violation – speeding, running a stop sign, etc. – and, upon running your information during the stop, discovers you have not registered your vehicle. You then typically end up with 2 tickets – one for the traffic infraction, and the other for the criminal charge of Unregistered Motor Vehicle. However, a law enforcement officer doesn’t need to witness a moving violation to pull you over. In fact, the officer may simply run your tag, discover your car isn’t registered, and pull you over on that basis alone. As long as the officer has an objectively valid reason for the stop, he or she can legally cite you with Unregistered Motor Vehicle.
A citation (ticket) is the most common way to initiate an Unregistered Motor Vehicle charge, but it is not the only way. In addition to writing a citation, a law enforcement officer can choose to issue a Notice to Appear or even physically arrest you for Unregistered Motor Vehicle. The decision to simply cite an alleged violator or take further action is in the sole discretion of the police officer and rests on a variety factors (i.e. prior arrests, open warrants, level of cooperation during the traffic stop).
Regardless of the method for initiating an Unregistered Motor Vehicle charge, you will end up in court addressing your case. Since Unregistered Motor Vehicle is a criminal offense, court is mandatory. When the police officer submits a copy of your ticket or Notice to Appear / Arrest Report to the clerk of courts, the clerk creates a case number in the court system associated with your name. You (the Defendant) then receive a Notice of Hearing to appear for Arraignment, the first court hearing and formal reading of the charges. After arraignment, you may have a series of hearings called Case Disposition, Plea Conference, and/or Status Check. The purpose of these post-arraignment hearings is to give the accused time to hire a lawyer (if he or she has not already done so), review the evidence and accusations, prepare a defense, and engage in plea negotiations.
We recommend not taking a plea deal at arraignment without a lawyer, as you would probably be pleading guilty without the benefit of reviewing your case, preparing a defense, negotiating a better offer, and, most importantly, receiving professional advice about the implications of any legal action. Pleading “NOT GUILTY” at arraignment is generally the better move – at least until you obtain legal help. Entering a “not guilty” plea at arraignment doesn’t automatically mean you are going to trial; it only means you are not ready to resolve your case at that point in time. Your future court hearings will allow you to make an informed decision about plea or trial.
Casanova Law Can Help
Our criminal defense law firm in Wellington serves the South Florida area in any criminal traffic case such as Unregistered Motor Vehicle. Attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former Assistant State Attorney (prosecutor) for Palm Beach County and has litigated thousands of criminal cases. Our criminal defense experience gives clients an advantage in every area that matters, including evidence review, plea negotiations, and trial.
Our goal is to get your case dismissed. If you have been charged with Unregistered Motor Vehicle, let us start fighting for you today.