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Do You Have To Pay Tolls With Temporary License Plates?

Driving with temporary license plates can be confusing when it comes to tolls. If you just got a new car and are wondering whether you need to pay tolls before receiving your permanent plates, you’re not alone.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: In most cases, yes you do need to pay tolls even with temporary or transit plates. Temporary plates are still considered valid registration, so toll agencies will charge you to pass through.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about paying tolls with temporary license plates. You’ll learn the rules in different states, how tolling systems identify your car, options for avoiding fees, and what happens if you don’t pay the tolls.

Temporary License Plates Are Considered Valid Registration

Temporary license plates serve as a legal means of identification for newly purchased vehicles. They are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and are considered valid registration during the specified time period.

While they are temporary, they still hold the same legal weight as regular license plates.

Temporary License Plates

Most states require toll payment

In most states, toll payment is required regardless of whether you have temporary license plates or permanent ones. Toll roads and bridges are maintained and funded through these payments, which help to improve transportation infrastructure.

Therefore, it is important to ensure that tolls are paid while using these roads, regardless of the type of license plates on your vehicle.

Not paying tolls can result in fines, penalties, or even suspension of your driving privileges. It’s always best to familiarize yourself with the toll payment requirements in your specific state to avoid any potential issues.

How toll systems identify your car

Toll systems use various methods to identify vehicles and collect payments. These methods include electronic toll collection (ETC) systems, license plate recognition (LPR) cameras, and transponders.

ETC systems use electronic devices installed in vehicles to automatically deduct toll charges as the vehicle passes through a toll booth. These devices are typically linked to an account, which is charged accordingly.

LPR cameras capture images of license plates as vehicles pass through toll gantries. The images are then processed and linked to the registered owner’s account, and toll charges are billed accordingly.

Some toll systems also use transponders, which are small electronic devices that can be attached to a vehicle’s windshield. These transponders emit a signal that is detected by toll gantries, allowing for automatic toll payment.

It is important to note that these toll systems are designed to recognize both temporary and permanent license plates. So, regardless of the type of license plate on your vehicle, toll systems will still be able to identify it and collect the appropriate toll charges.

Avoiding Toll Fees with Temporary Plates

Temporary license plates can sometimes present a challenge when it comes to paying toll fees. However, there are a few strategies that can help you avoid these fees and ensure a smooth driving experience.

Here are some options to consider:

Prepaying or Opening a Toll Account

One way to avoid toll fees with temporary license plates is to prepay or open a toll account before hitting the road. Many toll authorities offer the option to prepay a certain amount of money that will be deducted from your account as you pass through toll booths.

This can be a convenient way to ensure that your toll fees are covered, even with temporary plates. Additionally, some toll authorities allow you to open a toll account linked to your vehicle’s license plate number, which can help simplify the payment process.

Did you know? According to a recent study conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, drivers who prepay or open a toll account can save up to 20% on toll fees compared to those who pay at the booth.

Avoiding Toll Roads Completely

If you prefer to avoid toll fees altogether, there are alternative routes you can take that do not involve toll roads. Utilizing navigation apps or GPS devices that offer toll-free route options can be helpful in this regard.

These tools will guide you through alternate routes that may take longer, but will not require you to pay any toll fees.

Fun fact: Did you know that some states have laws that prohibit toll fees for vehicles with temporary license plates? For example, in Illinois, drivers with temporary plates are exempt from paying toll fees on certain toll roads.

It’s always a good idea to check the specific regulations in your state to see if you qualify for any toll fee exemptions.

Remember, each state may have different rules and regulations regarding toll fees and temporary license plates. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws in your specific area to ensure compliance and avoid any potential penalties.

Additionally, staying informed about the latest updates from toll authorities can help you navigate the roadways with ease and minimize any unexpected fees.

Avoiding Toll Roads

Consequences of Not Paying Tolls

When it comes to tolls and temporary license plates, there are several consequences that can arise if you fail to pay the tolls on time. These consequences are in place to ensure that everyone is abiding by the rules and regulations set forth by the toll authorities.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the potential consequences you may face.

Administrative fees

If you don’t pay your tolls with temporary license plates, one of the first consequences you may encounter is the imposition of administrative fees. These fees are typically added on top of the original toll amount and can quickly accumulate if left unpaid.

It’s important to note that these fees can vary depending on the toll authority and the specific toll violation.

Registration holds

Another consequence of not paying tolls with temporary license plates is the possibility of having a registration hold placed on your vehicle. This means that you won’t be able to renew your vehicle’s registration until all outstanding tolls and fees are paid.

This can be a major inconvenience and may even result in additional penalties if you continue to drive with an expired registration.


If tolls and fees remain unpaid for an extended period, toll authorities may turn to collections agencies to recover the funds. This can negatively impact your credit score and make it more difficult to secure loans or credit in the future.

Additionally, collections agencies may employ aggressive tactics to collect the debt, which can be stressful and time-consuming to deal with.

It’s important to remember that paying tolls on time is not only a legal requirement but also contributes to the maintenance and improvement of our transportation infrastructure. If you find yourself with toll violations, it’s best to address them promptly to avoid these potential consequences.

Exceptions and Special Cases

States with different rules

While the majority of states require drivers to pay tolls regardless of whether they have temporary license plates or permanent ones, there are a few exceptions. Some states have different rules when it comes to toll payment for vehicles with temporary license plates.

For example, in Illinois, drivers with temporary plates are exempt from paying tolls on certain toll roads. However, it is important to note that these exceptions vary from state to state, so it is always best to check with the local DMV or toll authority to understand the specific rules in your area.

Rental and dealer plates

Another special case is when it comes to vehicles with rental or dealer plates. These plates are typically issued by rental car companies or car dealerships for their vehicles.

In most cases, vehicles with rental or dealer plates are already registered with the tolling authorities, and toll fees are usually billed directly to the company rather than the individual driver.

This means that if you are driving a rental car or a vehicle with dealer plates, you may not need to worry about paying tolls separately, as they are usually included in the rental or dealership agreement.


Expired temporary tags

One situation that can cause confusion is when a driver has expired temporary tags. Temporary license plates are typically valid for a specific period, often ranging from 30 to 90 days, depending on the state.

If a driver’s temporary tags have expired, they may still need to pay tolls as if they had permanent license plates. It is important to renew temporary tags in a timely manner to avoid any potential issues or fines.

It is recommended to check with the local DMV or toll authority for specific guidelines regarding expired temporary tags and toll payment.


In conclusion, in most cases you are required to pay tolls even if you have temporary license plates. The temporary plates are still considered valid registration, so you can’t avoid tolls just because you don’t have your permanent plates yet.

To avoid headaches, it’s best to set up a prepaid toll account or avoid toll roads altogether until you get your permanent plates. Just having temporary or transit plates is generally not a valid excuse for not paying tolls.

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