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What's Driving You Crazy: Why does AAA deny a tow for not being able to get an extension on a temp tag?

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Posted at 5:14 AM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2021-08-30 09:06:09-04

Christopher from Denver writes, “What’s driving you crazy? Has anyone else been denied a tow by AAA Colorado for not being able to get an extension on their temp tag?”

There is no doubt we are seeing more temporary tags on the roads. That is a direct result of the much longer time it is taking people to get their car registered due to offices working virtually or with appointments only during this time of COVID-19. AAA National has a policy where they don't tow unregistered vehicles. Either no tags or expired tags count as an unregistered vehicle in their eyes. They say it is a long standing policy to curb abuse by car resellers and criminal activity.

I asked Skyler McKinley, Director of Public Relations & Government Affairs for AAA Colorado to weigh in on the situation:

“Your viewer is exactly spot on: As a matter of policy, AAA won’t tow any vehicle that isn’t street legal in the jurisdiction where service is requested. Why? Well, we think of ourselves as an emergency roadside rescue organization, helping motorists whose vehicles break down. We don’t think of ourselves as a tow truck company or towing service, so we don’t provide convenience, salvage, or auction tows. This helps us curb abuse, certainly, but is also more consistent with our mission of helping people.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

In a normal year, we wouldn’t tow a vehicle with without plates or with expired tags – just as the State of Colorado wouldn’t consider a vehicle operating under those conditions to be street legal. Of course, this isn’t a normal year. While most Colorado tag renewal services can be completed by mail or at an ExpressMV kiosk, we understand that the closure of many in-person vehicle registration services has prevented some folks from renewing their tags, or acquiring a permanent plate after the purchase of a new vehicle. As a result, we’ve temporarily waived our policy requiring current tags or plates.

Are expired temp tags a problem because of DMV closures? We’re seeing this in greater numbers than ever before, although it still represents a tiny sliver of our call volume. Are there more expired temp and regular tags out there? Absolutely. Anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot more – and our call data related to requests for service for these vehicles is up.”

I too have seen a larger than average number of temporary tags on the roads, expired ones as well as legal ones. I’ve also seen a large number of expired license plate stickers. A few officers I’ve spoken to about this tell me they are offering some leniency to drivers with expired tags. Those overdue by a month or maybe two. They tell me they will pull over a driver with an egregiously expired tag but as we all have seen, that isn’t happening maybe as often as we would like.

UPDATE 10/22/2020: Skyler McKinley, "We’ve updated our expired plate policy to allow for tows so long as the tags are within 90 days of being current."

Denver7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook,Twitter or Instagram or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast on iTunes , Stitcher , Google Play or Podbean.