SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The Department of Motor Vehicles is cracking down on drivers who abuse temporary tags, sometimes going years without getting a California license plate.

A new law that takes effect in January will do away with those paper dealer license plates that come on new and used cars.

The new law is intended to make it tougher on scofflaws and criminals who abuse the temporary plates but it could hurt car dealers who used the paper plates to get free advertising.

The DMV says the new plates will be lettered and numbered just like permanent metal plates, and they should make it safer for drivers and law enforcement officers.

“You know they are avoiding tolls, they are avoiding enforcement cameras things like that,” said San Jose CHP Officer Ross Lee.

Lee said cars with paper or missing license plates can trigger a car stop.

“Those are cars that we do stop. We do take enforcement action on those just to make sure the vehicle is registered and it’s not one that someone has purchased and kept without registering that vehicle,” Ross said.

Car dealers are already gearing up for the change.

“It will be just like a license plate made out of paper and that will be their license plate before the real ones arrive in the mail,” said Jeremy Beaver, President of the Del Grande Dealership Group in San Jose.

Beaver says dealers could take a hit because of the lost advertising.

“We’ve built our brand around these yellow DGDG license plates running around town. Thirty-three thousand vehicles a year have these yellow license plates. We’re going to miss seeing those but we’ll still be here and make sure our guests have a wonderful experience,” he said.

The new temporary plates will show a 90-day expiration date after the sale of a car and be linked to a DMV database which identifies the registered owner.

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