Woonsocket tells drivers with out-of-state plates: We know you live here, so pay up

WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- Never mind what their license plate says -- 34 city residents are getting citations this week for registering their vehicles out of state.

Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and Police Chief Thomas F. Oates III announced the latest sweep on Wednesday, in the city’s ongoing crackdown on residents with out-of-state plates.

Since the first sweep began in April 2018, the city has cited 176 residents for registering their cars anywhere but Woonsocket, ducking the city’s higher insurance and excise taxes.

Some have vehicles registered as far away as Maine and Texas, others as close as the next town in Rhode Island. Most, however, are using post office boxes in smaller border towns of Massachusetts, said Lt. Thomas Calouro, who led the sweep.


Massachusetts car taxes are limited to $25 per $1,000 assessed value, while Woonsocket is $35 per $1,000 of assessed value, with an exemption for the first $2,000.

While police officers on the night shift routinely check license plates while on patrol, many of the scofflaws are being turned in by their neighbors.

“People are willing to pay their fair share, as long as everyone is paying their fair share,” Calouro said.

State law requires Rhode Island residents to register their vehicles in Rhode Island. By law, a vehicle that “lives” more than 30 days in Rhode Island must be registered here.

The excise taxes on vehicles help municipalities pay their bills. Police say that accurate registrations are important for public safety.

Those who violate the law can be cited for operating on a foreign registration and ordered to a hearing at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.

They’ll be summoned to court on Jan. 16, and those who pay their back taxes and get their vehicles properly registered will have their cases dismissed.

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com