Ask Trooper Steve: When buying a car, can I just swap tags?

Trooper Steve answers viewer questions

ORLANDO, Fla. – News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve Montiero answers viewer questions and shares tips about the rules of the road, helping Central Florida residents become better drivers by being better educated.

On Monday, Trooper Steve was asked, “I’m purchasing a vehicle from a private seller. Can I just simply swap tags on this car and drive it home or will I get in trouble?”

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In short, no.

“You cannot just swap tags on a car and drive it on the road,” Trooper Steve said. “Any time a vehicle is operated on a public roadway, it is required to have vehicle insurance and, of course, be registered with a proper license plate. Whether it’s a metal plate or a paper temporary tag, you are required to have one.”

How you choose to move a vehicle after a purchase is entirely up to you, but there are laws governing this.

“Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicates the buyer may purchase a temporary tag at a motor vehicle service center that will be valid for up to 30 days so that a driver may legally drive a vehicle from one place to another,” he added. “To get this temporary tag, one must have already received the title from the person they are purchasing this vehicle from. Something that would also be allowed is towing that vehicle from one place to another.”

Placing a license plate on another vehicle with the knowledge that that license plate does not belong on that car is considered criminal in the state of Florida.

“A police officer can either issue a written arrest for something like this with a court date in the future or the officer could make a physical arrest,” Trooper Steve said. has all the information pertaining to proper licensing and vehicles registrations.

About the Author:

Steven Montiero, better known as “Trooper Steve," joined the News 6 morning team as its Traffic Safety Expert in October 2017. A Central Florida native and decorated combat veteran, Montiero comes to the station following an eight-year assignment with the Florida Highway Patrol.