The Associated Press
VANCOUVER, Wash. Once again, even in the post-Initiative
695 days of roughly $30 car tabs, the State Patrol is cracking
down on Clark County residents with Oregon license plates.
Troopers who talk to motorists after a collision, a speeding
violation or even a flat tire are being trained to ask pointed
questions about actual residences of anyone sporting Oregon
It's part of Washington's attempt to recover lost tax revenues
estimated in the millions.
"The citizens are a little tired of nothing being done,"
said Trooper Mike Kesler. "They don't know who to go
Similar tactics were used before 1999, when Washington residents
paid an annual 2.2 percent vehicle excise tax. Clark County
residents interested in saving a few hundred dollars would
drive across the river and register their cars in Oregon,
where tabs were about $30 for two years.
Washington tax officials in 1998 estimated there were 27,000
illegally registered vehicles in Clark County a loss
of $8.7 million a year in tax revenues. People were eager
to turn in their neighbors and flooded the Patrol with calls.
Then the passage of I-695 in 1999 repealed the state car-tab
tax in favor of a $30 annual fee. I-695 later was declared
unconstitutional, but the Legislature quickly moved to repeal
the tax anyway.
With Washington residents now paying a base fee of about
$33 per year for car tabs, versus Oregon's $54 for two years,
it might seem not to matter anymore whether Clark County residents
had Oregon plates.
Not so. An estimated 20,000 vehicles owned by Clark County
residents are believed registered in Oregon.
So, in addition to troopers making spot checks, patrol dispatchers
have a new database with sightings of out-of-state plated
cars in Clark County, as well as complaints from neighbors.
Residents with Oregon plates will receive notices that they
have 30 days from moving to Washington to replace driver and
vehicle licenses, or risk fines of $101 and $330 respectively.