Texas finally bans crime-inducing temporary paper license plate tags
A new law passed in Texas on June 12 will finally put an end to a criminal plague: The state has enacted a ban on temporary paper license plates.
The law will go into effect on July 1, 2025, and will replace all paper tags with temporary metal plates.
Introduced by Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, House Bill 718 will let car dealerships keep temporary metal plates on hand for new car buyers, thereby eliminating the need for temporary paper plates.
Paper tags are supposed to be used on a temporary basis, while car buyers wait to receive their permanent plates. But scammers were obtaining car dealer licenses, then printing up hundreds of thousands of temporary paper tags and selling them to people hoping to avoid paying for insurance and car registration.
Texas' temporary paper plates gave the state a black eye because they became a crime problem not just in Texas but nationally, turning up on cars involved in crimes in Texas, New York, and beyond. In a 2021 investigation, the FBI found more than a half-million fraudulent paper tags, sold by just three people to buyers across the country.
An investigation by NBC5 found that it was easy for someone to create a fake auto dealer entity and print the fake tags, due to poor screening by the DMV, which was allowing even people using stolen identities to get a Texas car dealer license.
The Texas DMV tried to crack down, including suspending car dealers suspected of selling fraudulent tags on the black market. So then counterfeiters began making and selling totally fake tags.
HB718 was the rare bill that wormed its way through the legislature in one session; Goldman said he was "shocked' it made its way through the process so quickly, as Texas elected officials generally prefer to stretch these things out for years.
But there's still going to be a delay: Even though the law has been passed, it will not go into effect until July 2025, ostensibly to give the DMV, county tax offices, and auto dealers time to create a new system.
It was initially designed to go into effect in September 2023, then March 2025, but the final bill bumped the deadline back to July 1, 2025. That's thanks to The Texas Independent Automobile Dealers Association, who were "concerned" about having an adequate supply of metal plates in such a short time frame. "TIADA worked with other stakeholders to express this concern and in response, the sponsor of the bill moved the effective date of the proposed law to make it effective 2 years from now," their statement says. Change is harrrd.