Dealer Plates

NOTICE:  The information below was obtained directly from the Florida Division of Motorist Services (DMS). A link is provided so you may access Dealer Advisory DE18-003.

FAST FACTS

  • The number of dealer plates that may be purchased must be reflected in your Garage Liability Insurance (GLI) certificate.
  • Updates to your GLI certificate regarding the number of dealer plates that your insurance authorizes you to purchase must be submitted to the Division of Motorist Services Regional Office.

Section 320.13, Florida Statutes allows dealers to purchase metal dealer license plates which are valid for use on vehicles owned by the dealer while the vehicles are in inventory and for sale, or while being operated in connection with your dealership’s business. Dealer license plates cannot be used on vehicles that are “for hire” or vehicles being used as tow trucks or wreckers. However, a dealer license plate may be used on a tow truck or wrecker if it is being demonstrated for sale. In this instance, the tow truck or wrecker cannot be used to haul a load.

NOTE:  Dealer plates may not be purchased and used by:

  • A wholesale dealer who is issued a license with license prefix VW
  • Licensed auctions with license prefix VA
  • Licensed salvage dealers with license prefix SD
  • Licensed mobile home brokers with license prefix BH
  • Licensed mobile home dealers with license prefix DH who deal exclusively in mobile homes.

Examples of Legal Uses of Dealer License Plates:

  1. On vehicles that are operated in connection with a dealer’s business.
  2. On vehicles while being used for demonstration purposes, with or without a representative of the dealer in the vehicle.
  3. On vehicles that are in transit to or from a dealer’s place of business.
  4. On vehicles temporarily loaned, without compensation, to a customer by a dealer while the customer’s vehicle is being repaired by the dealer. Note: make sure your insurance covers this use.
  5. On vehicles, such as service trucks, used by a dealer for hauling equipment or commodities, or making service calls, at no charge to the customer. Note: this does not apply to wreckers or tow trucks.
  6. On vehicles owned by the dealer while in inventory and for sale.
  7. On trailers for the sole purpose of demonstrating trailers for sale. Note: the trailer must not be hauling a load.

Examples of Improper Uses of Dealer License Plates:

  1. On service vehicles or wreckers used for hauling or making service calls for compensation or hauling property for compensation.
  2. On parts or supply trucks calling on retail or wholesale trade. Such vehicles must carry regular plates because of their competitive nature.
  3. On wreckers owned by or in the inventory of a dealership, even if they are not being compensated for the use of the wrecker.
  4. On car carriers even when the truck, trailer and vehicles being hauled are in the dealer’s inventory.
  5. On any vehicle to avoid the titling and registration process and the payment of sales tax when the vehicle is not exempt. For example:
    1. Loaning a car to your spouse, child, relative or friend for their private use, even though they are not employees of the dealership.
    2. On vehicles that you rent for compensation (not a loaner) to your customers. In this case the vehicle must be titled in the name of your dealership and you must obtain a “For Hire” license plate.

Law Enforcement and the Use of Dealer License Plates

Although the law allows the use of dealer license plates as stated above, there are some law enforcement officers throughout the state that take a much more conservative view on how dealers may use dealer license plates.  Here are some examples of dealer personnel who have received traffic citations while operating vehicles that were in the dealership’s inventory and were for sale but, in the eyes of the law enforcement office, were not being used in connection with the dealership’s business:

  1. A dealership principal was driving his child to school in a dealership vehicle that displayed a dealer license plate. He was stopped by a law enforcement officer and was advised that driving a child to school is not part of the dealership’s business. He was issued a traffic citation for improper use of a license plate.
  2. A dealership sales associate was driving a dealership vehicle (as a demonstrator) displaying a dealer license plate one Friday evening while he was accompanied by his girlfriend. The sales associate was stopped by a law enforcement officer and he was asked what he was doing and where he was going. He stated he was taking his friend to a movie. The officer stated that taking his friend to a movie is not considered operating the dealership’s vehicle in the normal course of the dealership’s business. He was issued a traffic citation for driving with an unauthorized license plate.

Although the Division of Motorist Services would have allowed the use of a dealer license plate in the above two examples, law enforcement did not. Therefore, you are cautioned to be careful when operating dealership vehicles with dealer license plates.

Attached is a letter written by the Director of the Division of Motorist Services to law enforcement agencies. You may want to keep a copy of this letter with you whenever you are driving a dealership vehicle displaying a dealer license plate, should you be stopped by law enforcement. It will not guarantee that you won’t receive a traffic citation, but it might help.

 How Many Dealer Plates May You Purchase?

The law does not limit the number of dealer license plates that an authorized dealer may purchase. However, you will only be permitted to purchase the number of dealer plates that your garage liability insurance (GLI) policy has approved and that which is reflected on your GLI certificate.

This is a very highly regulated process.  Your GLI certificate must be submitted to your Regional Motorist Services Office. This certificate will reflect the number of dealer plates you are authorized to purchase. The Regional Office will enter into the Division of Motorist Services database (known as FRVIS – Florida Realtime Vehicle Information System) the number of dealer plates you are authorized to purchase.  When you purchase dealer plates from the Tax Collector’s Office or from a license plate agency, they will only be able to sell you the number of dealer plates reflected in FRVIS.

If you have need for additional dealer plates, you must have your GLI certificate updated and you must deliver that certificate to your Regional Office so that the information can be updated into the FRVIS database. Failing to provide the Regional Office with the updated information will result in your not being permitted to purchase additional dealer license plates.

Because Motorist Services may audit dealer plates during a records inspection, dealers must promptly report lost or stolen dealer plates and you must be able to account for all dealer license plates, owned by your dealership, during the records inspection.

Click to access DE18-003 Regarding Dealer License Plates (1)