Registration of trailers in another state illegal

A “Did You Know” article in February, composed of answers to 20 questions on vehicle and traffic law and safety, included an answer to a true/false question about a resident of New York State registering a boat trailer in New Hampshire. The answer to the question stated that this was illegal, which generated several responses, not that the state of New Hampshire was the problem, but about the legality of registering any trailer in another state. Apparently this practice needs further clarification.

It appears registering a trailer in another state is a common occurrence. The reason for so doing is to avoid registration fees in New York State, where these fees may be more costly than in other states. For instance, it was brought to my attention that the fee for registering a small boat or ATV trailer in Maine for a 10 year period is $90 compared to a $21.50 per year cost in New York. However, this is against NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL).

VTL, Section 402(3) provides, in part, “No person shall operate or drive a motor vehicle drawing a trailer on the public highways of the state, unless such trailer shall have a distinctive number assigned to it by the commissioner and a number plate issued by such commissioner with a number corresponding to that of the certificate of registration displayed and fastened on the rear in the manner provided for number plates on the rear of a motor vehicle. . . ” Thus, if a motorist operates a motor vehicle on the public highways of New York state, and the motor vehicle is drawing a trailer that is not registered in New York or does not display New York registration plates as required, then the motorist would be in violation of VTL Section 402(3), which is a traffic infraction.

A conviction of this infraction carries a fine of $25-$200 plus a mandatory surcharge of between $88 and $93. Say good-by to what you thought you would save by registering your trailer in another state!

There is an exemption from these provisions, under VTL Section 250(1), that is applicable to trailers owned by non-residents of New York, but that exemption would have no effect upon a New York resident’s obligation to register his or her trailers in New York. This exemption would be more applicable to a U-Haul dealer renting a trailer to you to move something from one location to another. Often these trailers are registered in and licensed by other states. U-Haul trailers are often rented for one-way trips. Thus it is common to have a trailer, used to move items from another state to New York, and then returned to a local U-Haul dealer in New York state.

For more articles on Vehicle and Traffic Law and traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Board’s website at www.franklincony.org/ and click on the Traffic Safety Board from the pull-down menu under departments. “Like” us on Facebook as well.


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