Fake License Plates in Arizona: What You Need to Know

I recently helped my kid buy her first vehicle. As we prepared to drive her new-to-her-but-somewhat-used-car off the lot, the dealer put a paper license plate in the back window. He told us we should receive the official Arizona license plate from the MVD in the mail in about 90 days, give or take a bit.

Don't get scammed with a fake license plate.

Since she was preparing to live out of state with friends for a few months, we carefully kept an eye on the mailbox so we could forward the plate to her when it arrived. We were diligent about checking the mail and getting it into her hands.

Her friends had told us that in the state where she's currently living, there is a heavy prevalence of stolen or fake temporary plates. Law enforcement in the area see these as red flags. They're well-known for giving tickets to anyone driving on even slightly expired tags.

Temporary Paper License Plates

Whenever I see one of these paper license plates, I assume someone's just purchased the vehicle. They're a convenient way to keep the driver legal until the permanent plates arrive. Since the temporary tags are printed on paper or card stock, they're fairly easy to forge.

Don't get scammed with a fake license plate.

The only legal tags are issued by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and drivers who are caught using illegal or fake plates could face dire consequences.

Why Do People Use Illegal or Fake License Plates in Arizona?

Fake or altered license plates are illegal to use on the roads. But why do people use them, and what are the consequences?

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In some cases, people use a fake plate to avoid paying registration fees, buying insurance, or paying taxes on the vehicle.

One of the obvious reasons is that bad guys use fake plates. They might be trying to hide the identity of their vehicles, especially if they've been stolen or if they've been involved in a crime.

Don't get scammed with a fake license plate.

Some people may even use them to scam an unsuspecting buyer into purchasing a vehicle they can't legitimately sell.

Using a Fake Plate in Arizona is a Serious Offense

Whatever the reason, using fake license plates in Arizona is a serious offense. According to ARS §28-2532, "failing to display the authorized plate issued by the ADOT MVD is a violation that may result in a $300 fine."

And according to ARS §28-2531, "knowingly displaying a fake or altered plate is a class 2 misdemeanor, which may result in up to four months in jail and a $750 fine."

Don't get scammed with a fake license plate.
Using a fake plate, you could end up with fines and jail time. // Canva

Combating the Problem of Fake License Plates in Arizona

ADOT has been trying to prevent this growing problem with a special investigation and enforcement unit. If you suspect someone is using a fake license plate, you can check its validity or report the suspicious plate to ADOT through its website. It's always good to double-check the plate if you're buying from a third-party seller.

Fake license plates can bring real penalties. It's not worth the risk.

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