Pa. vehicle registration stickers might make a comeback


State lawmakers are backtracking on a law that eliminates state-issued registration stickers on vehicles.

Under Act 89 of 2013, better known as the Transportation Act, the state Department of Transportation would no longer have to issue the stickers.

But some police officials say it would make their jobs more difficult if the state scrapped the small rectangular stickers that show vehicles have current registration on license plates.

They won't be able to, with a simple glance, see if vehicles have current registration and would have to instead run license plate numbers through a computer database for confirmation.

"We can't run around running everyone's tag," said Chief Greg Bean of Southwestern Regional Police. "It's just not possible."

PennDOT has estimated it will save $1 million a year by eliminating the stickers. Under the law, the stickers will not be issued after 2016.

The bill: Now lawmakers are pushing a measure, House Bill 1154, to repeal the portion of the law that does away with the stickers.

The bill cleared the House with a non-partisan vote in June, and it is now in the Senate Transportation Committee. Every York County lawmaker in the House voted for the bill except Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township.

Grove said he sees the stickers as an inconvenience for drivers but added he understands the stickers are useful for police. He estimated three constituents come to his office each month because they lost their registration stickers, often because the stickers fell out of the envelope when they were mailed by PennDOT.

The process of renewing registration is also time-consuming, he said.

Here's how it works: Motorists receive a letter from PennDOT telling them they have to renew their registration. The driver either goes online to renew or mails the information to PennDOT, which in turn sends a new sticker in the mail.

"It's more of an inconvenience to residents to do it that way," Grove said, adding the state could see further cost-savings by encouraging residents to renew online.

Bean said he understands the need to save money, but fully eliminating the stickers isn't the answer. Instead, issuing the stickers every two years would allow the state to save some money while also making it easier for police officers to check registrations.

"I'd hate to see things go by the wayside," he said. "This would be going backwards."

— Reach Greg Gross at