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Motorists get tab fee reprieve

"Motorists will take their chances if they choose to cruise with expired license tabs this week. Although the State Patrol won’t ticket folks with expired December 1999 tabs until Jan. 10, a Kitsap County Sheriff deputy just might.The State Patrol decided to look the other way from expired tabs next week “as a professional courtesy to the citizens,” said WSP Capt. Eric Robertson. “We understand that the government is providing these things (license tabs), and they’re saying they don’t have the capacity to do it all on Jan. 3.”Robertson said it’s hoped that license renewals can be spread out over the week of Jan. 3 so that licensing offices are less strained. However, he said the temporary reprieve doesn’t preclude troopers from pulling over vehicles and reminding drivers to renew their tabs. It also doesn’t make exceptions for November-expiring tabs – for which a citation includes a $71 fine. A fine for tabs more than 60 days overdue is $157. But Sheriff Steve Boyer didn’t put a hold on citations because driving with expired tabs is an illegal activity, he noted. Instead, Boyer is leaving the decision of whether to issue a citation up to the deputies. Boyer suggested motorists purchase a three-day trip ticket from the Department of Licensing instead of driving with expired tabs.Sgt. Kathy Collings, the swing-shift Sheriff Department supervisor, said deputies ticketed some motorists in December for expired November tabs and gave warnings to others. She didn’t know whether the number of citations for expired tabs increased in December compared to past months.Officials expect a major crunch in January – not only because many December and some November-expiring tab owners waited until this month for renewal, but also because more than one-twelfth of vehicles’ tabs expire in December. Robertson explained all commercial vehicle licenses expire in December. Some must be renewed quarterly, others annually, but that means extra work at the beginning of each year for licensing workers.Mary Barnhill, licensing manager at the county auditor’s office, said, “There will be lines, but we’re going to do our best to move people through as efficiently as possible.”"

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