Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: What are Options for Lapsed Car Registration?

April 17, 2017, 8:01 AM HST
* Updated April 23, 7:44 AM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Aloha Mayor,

Q: I have a perfectly working car that I stupidly let the registration expire on because I got a truck I started driving. I wanted to put it into “storage” but by that time the registration even just to store it had doubled. It was over $600, and I couldn’t afford it.


The cost goes up every year, too, and my working car just sits as junk in our garage because I didn’t put it into storage on time.


I suspect this happens to a lot of residents, possibly a big contribution to junked cars being abandoned on the streets.

Can’t something be done to help ease the burden of not putting your car into storage? A cap, maybe, on fees? We now owe well over $1,200, my truck is broken and now I’m having a hard time getting to work, and I hope I won’t get fired.

I have a working vehicle that I cannot drive because its registration is expired. This seemingly simple situation spirals lives out of control and it seems as though there has to be a better way.


A: As detailed in Hawaii’s Revised Statutes §249-10, “the Director of Finance may require the payment of any delinquent tax and penalty as a condition precedent to the registration, renewal, or transfer of ownership of such vehicle.”

You can check with a representative at the DMVL on whether you may qualify for any relief on any delinquent tax and penalties owed if the vehicle is being registered, renewed or transferred.

Other than that, the law is very clear that the annual tax “shall be paid by the owner of each vehicle in the county in which the vehicle is located at the time of registration, whether the original registration or any subsequent registration, and shall be collected by the director of finance of such county…” Per HRS §249-5.5, “…If the affidavit, certificate of registration, license plates and emblem are presented to the director of finance after the expiration of the vehicle’s registration period, then the unpaid tax for each month the license plates could have been validated with an emblem plus the fee of the currently issued license plates and emblem shall be paid in full upon presenting the affidavit…”

Vehicle owners are reminded to place their vehicle in official storage status by turning in their vehicle registration and license plates at the DMVL if they will not be using their vehicle for a period of time.

For more information on Motor Vehicle licensing and registration, visit

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