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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Governor signs bill extending time to transfer automobile registrations
STATE HOUSE — The governor has signed into law legislation sponsored by Rep. Michelle E. McGaw and Sen. Kendra Anderson to give car buyers more time to transfer their registrations.
The bill (
), which took effect immediately, extends the time that the purchaser of a vehicle is allowed to operate their new vehicle before it is registered. Currently, those who buy from a dealer have 20 days to register their new vehicle, during which they can drive using the license plates from their previous vehicle, and those who buy privately from another individual have just three days. The legislation, which passed the General Assembly June 23, now allows drivers 30 days in both private and dealer sales.
The new law is intended to allow a more practical timeline, considering the time it takes to get an appointment at the Division of Motor Vehicles, particularly for those subject to the three-day deadline for private sales.
“Getting an appointment at the DMV within three days of purchasing a vehicle can be challenging. Properly registering your car is important, so this law needs to reflect today’s reality and give drivers a timeline with which they can actually comply,” said Representative McGaw (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton).
Said Senator Anderson (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), “No one should have to run the risk of driving illegally because they can’t get a timely appointment at the DMV. This practical change will reduce unnecessary stress and risk for drivers.”
During the height of the pandemic, the DMV instituted a reservation-only schedule in order to maintain social distancing at its facilities. At times, appointments were booked four weeks in advance, making it impossible to transfer a registration in the amount of time allotted under the current law.
Representative McGaw first introduced the legislation after a constituent was forced to leave a car they purchased in the driveway of the seller for weeks during the pandemic, because of the wait time for a registration transfer appointment at the DMV. The DMV later upgraded to a more user-friendly system and cut those waits considerably.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
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