How likely am I to receive a penalty if I keep out of state plates and insurance for a lengthy amount of time when relocating to another state?

I plan on moving to Texas where emissions testing is done. My car is leaking/burning oil and won’t pass (code p0420).

I was thinking of holding on to my current state’s registration and insurance that doesnt do emissions. The registration will be valid for another 2 years.

Is it likely that the DMV or insurance company would say something even if I don’t get into an accident?

Is the penalty a fine or would they just not provide coverage if I got into an accident?

Edit: typos

Texas has a lot of people moving into it from many other states. I suspect what you’re asking about happens a lot more often than we think.

Having said that…you’d be on “borrowed time” as soon as you move there. Something will happen or come up where you’ll need to be registered in Texas. Might be a month, might be a year, who knows.

Personally, I’d either get the car fixed so it will pass inspection, or plan to buy another car.


You will need legal advice to answer this accurately. In general most states require you to resister your car within a short time frame after establishing residence. An insurance company could deny coverage if you live in a high risk area but are paying lower premiums for an address in a low risk area.

An exception is for military personnel , they frequently are permitted to maintain their ‘home’ address for the duration of their stateside deployments.

Tread carefully


I doubt the state of Texas would be your problem. They have more important things to worry about.

Even if you violate Texas law by keeping your registration and not re-titling your car in the state, insurance is more of a problem. You may effectively be driving without insurance. They may not cover you in an accident. If you get a Texas drivers license, your insurance may check that as a matter of normal business and drop you. Any change of address is info to drop as well.

Re-titling and registration can be costly. My move to Florida cost me $350 per car. That cost plus the repairs you need may make selling the car in your state the best bet.


A Google search shows that you have 30 days to register a vehicle with Texas after moving there .
90 days to get a Texas drivers license.

Why can’t people use the web ?


I know its against regulations. Thats obvious. I just cant afford to buy another car right now especially in this highly inflated market.

If coverage is denied, which certainly seems possible here, you could be responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars if you’re sued. Do you have that sitting around?


My understanding is that a vehicle is supposed to be registered in the state where it is primarily used.

If you live in state A and register in state A then use it in state B, you can do it because they don’t know that you’re primarily using it in state B. If you live in state A and register it in state B and use it in state B that’s all right because that’s what you’re supposed to do. If you no longer live in state A but live in state B but continue to register it in state A then it fits neither of these categories and that’s where it could be a problem.

What if you leave the car behind in the state that you came from, so that the vehicle is primarily used in that state? Wouldn’t you be breaking the rules of the state that you moved out of by not registering the vehicle in the state that it is primarily used in?

This just reminded me of when Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movie put his pinky up and said “1 million dollars.” Lol.

Can you explain how it would be hundreds of thousands?

If you cause an accident that harms another person, you are responsible for their medical costs. Let’s say the other driver has an injury… but not an obvious one, say, back and neck pain.

You likely don’t know the ACTUAL cost of medical services because you’ve always had insurance to pay for it so you don’t know that the ambulance run can be $5000. X rays can be $1000. An MRI can be $10,000. The ER bill is $20,000 just to roll in. The hospital stay $2000 a day If surgery is involved…$100,000. Therapy can run $100 to $500 a session twice a week for 6 months to a year.

That is just medical…now we have a lawsuit for pain and suffering that could triple the hospital bill.

Notice I did not even mention the damage to the car…small potatoes compared to medical.

Now you have an idea why insurance is so expensive.


What you want to do is not a laughing matter . It might not happen but your vehicle could be impounded for lack of proper registration which could be more expensive then the repair .

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My co-worker has been employed here for three years with out-of-state license plates, not unusual here. If he is stopped by police he will receive a small fine, about 1/10 of what three years registration costs in Nevada. Failure to obtain a Nevada drivers license will be another fine.

I don’t see any reason why you can’t update your address with your insurance company, “snowbirds” have two addresses.

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Snowbirds tell the insurance company where they are driving so the proper rate can be applied and proper coverage is in place.

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You might consider telling your insurance that this move to Texas is temporary. Maybe 6-12 months and then you’ll decide if this was a good move and stay or quit and move home. They may agree to cover you for that period of time with your old state’s registration (good for 2 years) and your current driver’s license. That way you are covered by insurance and only have the violation of Texas’ change of registration deadline as a risk.

Buys you some time, financially, to fix or dump your current car.


Yeah this is a legal issue. Don’t forget about state tax issues and the irs. You may need to return to your home state every so often or why not enroll at a school for a class to be a student. I did have an accident as an out of state student back in 1968 and had no insurance problem and I know there are people that just over stay after school. All in all it’s better to stay legit. I don’t think you’ll get locked up but they could impound your car.

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I don’t believe the police in Texas can impound a vehicle for having out of state license plates. Thousands of vehicles with out of state plates, it is just too common of a violation.

The DMV web site states that if you don’t register your vehicle within 30 day additional fees may apply. The DMV won’t research when you became a resident but if you have a series of tickets for out of state registration, they will go by those dates.

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That is a possibility. Thank you.

What about if I insure my car in Texas where I will live and keep my out of state license plates?

I just got an online quote with Progressive and they didn’t ask for my plate number, or state ID.

I know that this would go against Texas state regulations, but I think I may still be in good grace with the insurance company.

Do you think this behavior can still void my coverage if I got into an accident?

… but in order to finalize coverage, Progressive–like every other insurance company–will require the VIN, the plate #, proof of your identity, and possibly more info. Insurance companies are very savvy, and trying to “beat them at their own game” is rarely–if ever–successful. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be charged with Insurance Fraud.

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Won’t I need insurance coverage before I can even get a Texas plate though? How can they ask for something a new resident doesn’t have yet?

It’s not really the typical insurance fraud though because I’m being honest about where I live. It’s not something Im doing in order to get lower rates.

Edit: added second paragraph

Do you think anyone would notice? The guy working next to me has been driving for 3 months with out of state plates. The guy next to him drove for 4 months with an expired temporary permit.

Contact your insurance company and update your address, don’t let people scare you.

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