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Georgia Cracks Down On Temporary Tag Violations, Texas Dealers


"If we catch a dealer that is selling these temporary tags*, they're committing a felony. We are pursuing them—we are making arrests.”
 

“If we catch a dealer that is selling these temporary tags*, they're committing a felony. We are pursuing them—we are making arrests.”

This was in response to a question during a recent interview with Special Agent Justin Arnzen with the Georgia Department of Revenue's Office of Special Investigations who says there has been a noticeable uptick in temporary tag violations over the past 12 months. “We know of some Texas dealers who are also selling temporary tags,” he added.

The most common issue Arnzen is seeing is that dealers or individuals (who may or may not be affiliated with a dealership) are selling temporary tags for profit to anyone on the street. “We're seeing the average price for a temporary tag being sold on the street from a dealer to a person between $100 to $150 per tag.”

Dealers can face serious charges for involvement in the illegal practice of selling temporary tags, more commonly computer forgery and Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charges. Arnzen provided a couple scenarios they more regularly see:
 
Computer Forgery

Example: If a Georgia dealer uses Georgia's state computer system to print these temporary tags, they can be charged for computer forgery, which has a prison sentence of up to 15 years and up to 50 thousand dollars for each offense.
Arnzen added, “In the case of a Texas dealer, though they are not accessing any state of Georgia system, they're still printing off the temporary tags, so we can still charge them for forgery, and that has a similar fine and jail sentence.”

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Charge

Example: Georgia dealer or individual in Georgia tries to sell temporary tags for extra money by utilizing a Texas dealer's account information in order to log into the Texas system and print off temporary tags for sale in Georgia, utilizing a Texas dealer's license.

Assuming both parties are aware this illegal practice is happening, this could constitute conspiracy—and this is where a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) charge can come in.

Additionally, dealers operating in Georgia, accessing the Texas system and printing Texas temporary tags for individuals in Georgia could face not only charges in Georgia, but in Texas as well, added Arnzen.

The consequences can be serious, particularly if a dealer is involved in multiple temp tag violations.  Within the past year, Arnzen recalls one case where “one of the dealers we dealt with here in Georgia received a 900 count indictment for felony charges, and their prison sentence was 40 years.”  While this particular case involved a dealer operating in Georgia, similar penalties can apply to a Texas dealer, said Arnzen.
 
Mitigating Risk, Damages

Dealers may not be at their dealership on a daily basis and are not always aware that personnel or other individuals may have access to their accounts. However, being unaware does not clear the dealer of responsibility. As a result, Arnzen strongly recommends dealers practice these steps to mitigate risk at their dealerships:
  1. Run spot checks on personnel to make sure they are following appropriate procedures; check your accounts to make sure there is no excess or unnecessary tags being generated
  2. Limit the number of individuals who have access to your password and computer system
  3. Frequently change your password
  
 
*In Georgia, a temporary tag for customers purchasing vehicles is referred to as a “Temporary Operating Permit” or TOP.

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