Motorists who don't register targeted

Sheriff to watch cars for out-of-state plates to catch violators

August 04, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Carroll sheriff's deputies will crack down on county motorists who fail to register their vehicles and obtain Maryland license plates, Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said yesterday.

After an initial public awareness campaign -- about 30 days -- deputies will concentrate on vehicles with out-of-state plates and check to see where the owners live, the sheriff's office said.

State law requires new residents to register vehicles and obtain a Maryland driver's license within 30 days.

The county is taking advantage of first-time state grants to pay overtime costs for the crackdown, said Maj. John Stultz, operations commander for Tregoning. The $5,000 grant, which must be used this year, is renewable. The amount is sufficient to pay overtime wages for about 200 hours during the next five months, he said.

The grant stems from a five-year cooperative program among the Motor Vehicle Administration, state and local police. The program began last year after the General Assembly passed the Foreign Vehicle Registration Bill, which provides overtime grants to law enforcement agencies to enforce motor vehicle registration laws.

Stultz said residents should know the law, "but we are trying to be fair about it."

Stultz said deputies could stop cars at strategic checkpoints on major commuter roads linking Pennsylvania to Maryland, such as Routes 30, 97 and 194. He said they also could patrol neighborhoods and apartment complex parking lots, logging vehicles with out-of-state license plates.

`Strong indication'

Deputies could then place a warning notice on vehicle windshields, providing information about proper registration.

"If those vehicles in possible violation of the law continue to be parked in front of homes and apartments on a consistent basis, it's a strong indication that the owner is living there and has not properly registered the vehicle," Stultz said.

"The deputy would then contact the owner, make him aware of the law and issue a warning," he added.

If motorists receive a warning, they have 14 days to return to the sheriff's office and show proof they have complied, Stultz said.

Anyone who fails to comply could be given a citation with a maximum fine of $1,000, he said.

Avoiding stricter laws

Some motorists intentionally title and register their vehicles in other states to avoid Maryland's stricter laws, including a 5 percent excise tax, registration fees, compulsory insurance and safety inspection requirements, Stultz said.

By announcing the crackdown, Stultz said he hoped violators would have time to comply.

Vehicle registration exemptions are sometimes given, such as for military personnel who are transferred to Maryland or for out-of-state students attending college here.

Anyone who needs clarification of the law should contact the state Motor Vehicle Administration at 800-950-1682.

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