Trackable temporary license plates now on South Carolina vehicles

May 15, 2019

Beginning Wednesday, May 15, 2019, travelers may notice a new type of temporary license plate on South Carolina roadways, which ties a newly-purchased vehicle to its owner.

Prior to the passage of Senate Bill 1083 in 2018, whose primary sponsor was Sen. Larry Grooms, a temporary license plate placed on the back of a vehicle simply included an expiration date written with a marker. These plates were easily forged and left law enforcement officers without any knowledge about the vehicle and its owner during traffic stops.

“The introduction of the trackable temporary license plate will prove critical in ensuring the safety of our law enforcement officers,” said Kevin Shwedo, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. “It will also be very helpful in making sure automobile dealers are following the laws governing how quickly they need to submit the registration and titling paperwork to the agency.”

Each trackable, temporary license plate will have a unique alpha-numeric code that will be tied to the purchaser of the vehicle and issued when the vehicle is sold. The numerals will represent the date on which the plate will expire, while the alpha characters will differentiate one car owner from another. All temporary plates will follow the same alpha-numeric sequence, yet the images around the plate may change based on any dealer advertising. According to the law, dealers can advertise on the top 50 percent of the temporary plate.

The trackable, temporary license plate will become mandatory for all newly-purchased vehicles on November 11, 2019. Trackable, temporary license plates do not apply to mopeds or commercial motor vehicles. Once a customer receives the permanent, metal plate, he or she should dispose of the temporary plate. The temporary plate will immediately become invalid.