What's up with all the cars driving around lately not displaying rear license plates or visible trip permits? Is this due to a COVID-related backlog at DMV, or are people just saying "screw it" due to perceived (or real) lack of enforcement? —Licensed Busybody
I'd like to thank you for writing, Busybody—you've reminded me the tags are expired on both my cars.
For the record, the phrase "both my cars" probably makes the humor-columnist lifestyle sound more glamorous than it really is. I won't bore you with model years, but I'm pretty sure both of these cars were touted in their original marketing materials as "Y2K compliant," and when they run out of gas, I have to soberly consider whether it's really worth the investment to fill them back up again.
I haven't been too worried about their tags, though, because (A) I'm a bum, and (B) Oregon imposed a moratorium on expired registration enforcement way back in March 2020, when all our DMV offices closed due to COVID.
From this information, one might presume we'll be able to get out of tickets for expired tags forever by singing a few bars of "Shah-la, la-la-la-la live for today" and kissing the arresting officer on the nose. Unfortunately, this love feast of leniency is not without caveats.
For starters, the DMV actually reopened way back in June. It's true that it's by appointment only (and they're pretty backed up, too), but you can still renew your vehicle registration online, or even—the mind recoils—through the mail.
And they expect you to do it! The moratorium doesn't mean you don't have to do DMV stuff at all; it just means they understand that, at present, doing DMV stuff is going to take you longer than usual. (I'll give your mind a moment to crawl out of the k-hole caused by hearing the words "DMV" and "longer than usual" in the same sentence.)
The original moratorium ran through Dec. 31, 2020, but it's been extended to April 30, 2021. However, this is a rolling moratorium: Only tags that have been expired for less than three months are covered. After that, whether you get a ticket depends on your singing voice (and, given Oregon's history, perhaps the color of the face it comes out of).
Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.