You’ve probably taken a test ride on a motorcycle owned by a dealership. If you’ve ever taken one, chances are it had a “dealer plate”. The major idea behind a dealer plate is to allow dealers to demo their inventory without having to register it with the state.
Obviously, this saves the dealer time and a lot of money. A dealer plate allows the owner to attach it to a vehicle and operate and it on public ways without paying sales tax, excise tax, or other fees such as title and registration. That’s a huge saving.
Dealer plate issue
So it has come to the attention of the Louisiana Office Of Motor Vehicles (LOMV) that something foul may be afoot. Particularly with used (car/motorcycle) dealer plates. Eight different types of plates are issued. Four for new vehicles and four for used vehicles. The types of dealer’s plates are regular, motorcycle, handicap and personalized. The LOMV says that there are 10,568 active used dealer plates in circulation. And, those plates have been issued to 2,984 dealers.
LOMV says 19 used dealers have more than 20 plates and 100 have 10 plates. But here’s where the series “On Your Side” thinks something is amiss. One dealer near the top of the list is called Omega Auto, Inc. has 51 plates to its name. While 51 plates seem like a lot, it wouldn’t necessarily be an issue for a “mega dealership” with lots of employees and/or products on its lot.
Dealer plate abuse
In January of this year, a representative of Omega Auto showed up at the LOMV and was issued 20 plates. Then 12 days later, the representative showed up and purchased 30 more. Two weeks later, the representative returned again and requested 25 more because he said he lost them while he was at an auction. But this time, the LOMV refused to issue the plates.
But On Your Side looked into Omega Auto and found that although a sign for the dealership appeared on a building, no employees were at the location. In addition, the dealership has had its license pulled for lack of insurance.
Dealer plate abuse has occurred in the past. Three Louisana used car dealers were shut down last year and none of them had any record of vehicle sales. Now, investigators have found that significant abuse is continuing.
Louisiana dealer plates have been found on vehicles in New York and New Jersey. According to On Your Side, used dealer plates are being sold online for as much as $2,000 on sites like Craigslist.
The LOMV is looking into the claimed abuse.
Featured photo credit: WBRZ