Phuket motorists warned over ‘red plate’ driving

PHUKET: Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) Chief Kanok Siripanichkorn has told the Gazette that people driving cars with red license plates have just one month to get regular “white plates” on their cars – or face the consequences.

The warning for Phuket drivers follows Land Transport Department Director-General Chairat Sanguansue’s announcement of a “crackdown” on people illegally driving cars with red plates, which can incur fines of up to 10,000 baht.

Mr Kanok said that many people in Phuket drive cars with red plates, a clear sign that the vehicle has yet to be registered with the Land Transport Department.

He said he understood that some of these drivers were genuinely waiting for car registrations to be approved. The department will take no action against any law-abiding motorist whose car is less than one month old or has not been driven more than 3,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.

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Many other owners, however, continue driving with red plates in order to suggest the car is brand-new, he said.

In other cases they are simply waiting for their preferred “lucky number” registration, won at an auction organized by the PLTO, to be approved.

That process that can take several months and regular plates must be issued for them during the interim, he added.

Red plates being used longer than needed costs the department revenue from registration fees not paid and makes it much more difficult to track stolen vehicles, he said.

Red license plates are issued to car dealers and garages only, so that vehicles can be driven on public roads temporarily in order to reach dealerships or be repaired, he explained.

It is illegal to drive cars with red plates at night, from sunset to sunrise, without express permission from the Land Transport Department. Such permission is restricted to a maximum of five consecutive nights, he added.

Driving a car with red plates at night without permission can incur a fine of between 200 and 2,000 baht. Driving a car with red plates during the day for personal business can leave the driver open to charges of driving an unregistered vehicle, he warned.

“If we find a car with red plates that was bought one year ago, it means the driver has no intention of registering the car. They will be fined between 1,000 and 10,000 baht,” he said.

Motorists who have been issued regular white license plates, but have yet to fit them to their cars, face fines of between 200 and 2,000 baht, he added.

Chief Kanok also warned motorists against using counterfeit red plates or modifying genuine plates – red or white – by covering them with images or enlarging them. Doing so is punishable with six months to five years in jail or a fine between 1,000 and 10,000 baht, he said.

“Only license plates that have been sold by [Land Transport Department] auction are allowed to have images on them.

“If officers find modified plates, the officers will take photos as evidence and file the charge in our computer database. The driver must pay the fine when he renews his car registration.”

In a bid to get more people to renew vehicle registrations on time, the PLTO has extended its normal office hours.

Chief Kanok said the sections that process the applications now start 30 minutes earlier, at 8am. PLTO staff now work through the traditional one-hour lunch break and finish one hour later, at 5:30pm.

Moreover, vehicle registration renewals are available every Saturday and Sunday at Big C from 10am to 6pm. The counter is on the basement level and can be reached by turning right after getting off the escalator.

— Pimwara Choksakulpan

Phuket News

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