Can You Go Through Tolls with Temporary Plates? Understanding Toll Policies

Navigating toll roads with temporary plates can seem tricky, but it’s entirely possible and legal.

Your temporary plates are recognized by toll authorities, similarly to permanent plates.

It’s important to register these plates with the relevant toll agency to avoid any unnecessary fines or fees.

Should your vehicle not have a permanent plate yet, using a FasTrak transponder or paying the toll online may be required.

For any toll road, ensure that your temporary plate information is up to date to maintain a smooth travel experience.

Understanding Temporary Plates

When you purchase a new vehicle or are between license plate updates, you will use temporary plates. These allow you to operate your vehicle legally on public roads until your permanent plates arrive.

What Are Temporary Plates?

Temporary plates, often made of paper, are provisional license plates issued for your vehicle.

They display a temporary registration number unique to your vehicle, which is tied to your name and vehicle information. This number is usually printed in large, bold letters for visibility.

Legality of Temporary License Plates

It’s important to understand that temporary plates are a legal requirement for driving a vehicle without permanent plates.

Although they are temporary, these plates must be properly displayed and adhered to the vehicle for which they were issued.

If you’re driving on toll roads, vehicle identification is still mandatory, meaning your temporary license plate must be visible to toll cameras or personnel.

Remember that driving without a visible temporary plate, or not following up with the permanent registration in a timely manner, is against the law and can result in fines or other penalties.

Temporary Plates and Tolls

When you have temporary plates on your vehicle, navigating toll roads requires a clear understanding of how tolls are processed and the potential consequences of toll evasion.

Paying Tolls with Temporary Plates

Your temporary plates are valid for toll roads, and it is crucial that you pay the applicable tolls to avoid fines.

Agencies can match temporary plates to your car registration details for billing purposes.

For example, you can use both your temporary and permanent license plate numbers to pay a toll online or through a dedicated toll road app.

Remember, driving on toll roads without a transponder or pre-established payment method can incur fees.

Toll Evasion and Enforcement

Toll evasion is illegal and can result in costly penalties.

Toll authorities have mechanisms to track plates, including temporary ones.

If you bypass a toll without paying, enforcement agencies are likely to send a toll bill to your registered address.

To avoid violations, ensure that your temporary plate information is updated and clearly visible.

Always seek to pay your tolls promptly, as evasion can lead not only to fines but also to administrative headaches down the line.

Toll Payment Options

When you’re navigating toll roads with temporary plates, you have a couple of options to manage toll payments efficiently. These ensure that you can travel without interruption and comply with tolling requirements.

Cash and Card Payments

Many toll booths offer the convenience of cash payments. This is straightforward: you simply pay the toll in cash as you pass through the booth.

Some locations may also allow for card payments if you don’t have cash on hand or prefer a cashless transaction.

Electronic Toll Collection

For a more seamless experience, consider using electronic toll collection systems.

When you set up an account with systems like FasTrak, you’ll receive a transponder to place in your vehicle.

This device automatically deducts tolls from your prepaid account or charges them to a linked payment method as you pass through tolling points.

Even with temporary plates, you can add the temporary plate number to your account.

This is critical because it links tolls incurred directly to your account, avoiding potential fines for missed tolls.

Transitioning to Permanent Plates

After receiving your temporary plates, it’s essential to stay informed about the transition to permanent plates and ensure your toll accounts reflect these updates.

When to Expect Your Permanent Plates

Typically, your permanent plates are issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within a few weeks following your vehicle purchase. However, it can take up to 90 days to receive them.

You should check with the DMV if you haven’t received your plates within this time frame.

Updating Toll Accounts with Permanent Plates

Once you’ve received your permanent plates, you need to update your toll account information.

If you’re using any TCA toll services, here’s how you can keep your account current:

  • Log into your toll account: Access your online profile with the toll provider.
  • Update vehicle information: Locate the section for vehicle management, usually named ‘Vehicles’, ‘Vehicle Info’, or ‘My Cars’.
  • Enter new plate details: Input your new permanent plate number in place of the old temporary tag.

Remember, updating your license plate information promptly ensures that you avoid any unnecessary toll violations or administrative fees.

Troubleshooting and Tips

Navigating toll roads with temporary plates can lead to specific challenges. Understanding these and preparing in advance will help ensure you don’t face unexpected fines or disruptions during your travels.

Common Issues with Temporary Plates at Tolls

Temporary Plate Recognition: One frequent problem you may encounter is the toll system failing to recognize temporary plates. This can result from several factors, such as the paper plates not being properly mounted or obscured from view, leading to missed tolls and subsequent fines.

Billing Troubles: Even when temporary plates are recognized, another issue might be receiving the toll bill.

If your address is not up-to-date with the Department of Licensing, you might not receive your bill on time or at all, which could lead to penalties.

Tips for a Hassle-Free Toll Experience

  • Update Your Information: Always ensure that your contact information is current so that the toll authority can send you any necessary billing information related to your temporary plates.
  • Using a FasTrak Transponder: If you havetemporary plates and plan to drive through tolls frequently, consider obtaining a FasTrak transponder. This device will automatically charge the tolls to your account, reducing the risk of billing issues.
  • Pay Online: If you receive a bill, use the toll authority’s website to pay promptly, minimizing the chance of late fees or additional charges.


If you’re driving with temporary plates, rest assured that you can still use toll roads. However, keep in mind that:

  • Toll authorities have ways to bill you by linking your temporary tag to your vehicle’s registration.
  • To avoid penalties, quickly update your account with the temporary license plate number, if you use an electronic toll collection system like E-ZPass.
  • Should your vehicle lack any kind of plates, a FasTrak transponder may be necessary.

Happy and safe driving!

  • Eric Williams

    I'm the founder of Daily Car Tips. I wrote articles in the automotive industry for more than 10 years, published in USA and Europe. I love sharing my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on this journey as we explore the exciting world of cars together!

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