Driving with expired tags in North Carolina is NOT a moving violation, but it is a Class 3 misdemeanor, and therefore court costs and a fine can be assessed and a conviction will show up on a background check (whether or not an employer will actually care about this violation is a different issue).
Do not ignore an expired registration citation– if you simply forget about it, your license could be revoked and you might be arrested for failing to appear in court. Thankfully, expired registration tickets are very easy to take care of in Wake County. You can simply take your renewed registration to the assistant district attorney on your designated court date and the ADA will then dismiss the citation.
However, if you have other charges, you will still have to deal with those. In Raleigh, we often see marijuana charges or concealed weapons violations charges paired with expired registration tickets. An officer has reasonable suspicion to pull you over based on an expired registration. One the officer makes the traffic stop, he may find other reasons to charge you — for example, he might detect the scent of marijuana, and insist on searching your car. DO NOT CONSENT to a car search ever. He might also find a gun in your center console during that search. If you do not possess a concealed carry permit, he could charge you with a violation. Expired registrations also often lead to DWI arrests.
The moral of the story: renew your registration. In North Carolina, this requires you to have your car inspected first and then subsequently pay for the renewal.
**Please note this blog post was written during the COVID pandemic where officers have been directed not to ticket for registrations, but this limitation could be lifted at any time. The information holds true for non-pandemic times**