State lawmakers are trying to save motorists from fees for forgetting to renew their license plates. The Illinois secretary of state’s office stopped sending out license-plate renewal notices in October because of the ongoing budget impasse. As a result, more than 300,000 drivers have paid renewal late fees in 2016, giving Illinois more than $6 million in late fees. That’s twice what the state made on late fees in the same period in 2015.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said his bill would let motorists be 60 days late before they have to pay a penalty. Motorists now have a 30-day grace period before they are charged a $20 late fee.
“The bill would say that the secretary of state is prohibited from imposing a delinquent registration or renewal fee while the state is not sending those registration renewal notices to vehicle owners,” Cullerton said.
The extended grace period would cease on its sunset date of June 30, 2017, or if the secretary of state’s office resumed mailing reminders.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said the measure offers temporary relief.
“This isn’t a free pass forever,” Syverson said. “It’s just a 30-day pass.”
The legislation would not refund money to people who have already been charged a late fee. The bill would also allow people to contest tickets they receive for driving without up-to-date registration.