Under Washington law, collector vehicle license plates cannot be used for regular transportation, commercial purpose or carrying a load. The law allows vehicles that are at least 30 years old and in good running condition to be licensed as collector vehicles. The upside of registering your car as a classic is that collector vehicle plates are valid for the life of the vehicle. You never have to pay for your tabs again.
The tradeoff is that a collector vehicle has limitations. The law states that they “may only be used for participation in club activities, exhibitions, tours, parades, and occasional pleasure driving.”
You might think lots of people would be tempted to register their cars as collectible, but time and wear makes this a somewhat self-enforcing law. Your old college car is most likely no longer on the road. The few cars that last that long usually do because they’re actually worth keeping.
I’ve asked a lot of cops why they got into the job, and so far none of them have said it was because they wanted to collect taxes. That doesn’t mean there’s no enforcement of registration laws, but it’s understandably less than some other violations. As far as I know, misuse of a collector plate has never been listed as contributing to a traffic collision.
“Given the limited policing resources, it makes sense to focus enforcement efforts on the highest-risk behaviors. No one likes getting a speeding ticket, but the most current research confirms that traffic enforcement that targets dangerous behaviors does save lives. There are laws we want enforced because it annoys us that someone is getting away with something, and there are laws we want enforced to intervene in high-risk driving behaviors. I know what I’d pick.” ~Doug Dahl, a Target Zero Manager Communications Lead,
Mr Dahl lists the top four factors in fatal crashes in our state along with the percentage of crashes they’re involved in:
▪No Seat Belt Use (23%).
▪Distracted Driving (20%).
Dahl adds that while enforcement decisions shouldn’t be made based on what’s easiest, in this case it works. Impairment, speed, distraction and seat belt use are all clearly observable behaviors. However, if an officer sees a collector plate at a grocery store or campground, who’s to say that isn’t occasional pleasure use?
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI or any other vehicular crimes. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.