Aiken Co. Sheriff's Office plans to double up on plate enforcement

Aiken Co. license plates
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office is cracking down on residents who haven't paid vehicle taxes. (WRDW-TV / June 21, 2012)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, June 21, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- News 12 joined the Aiken County Sheriff's Office on a special mission looking for a different type of suspect -- out-of-state plates.

"After you've been here for 45 days, you're required to at least pay the property taxes on your vehicle," said Deputy Brad Terry with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Terry writes a stack of warnings to people who haven't paid their vehicle property taxes.

"They use these resources, they put their kids in Aiken County schools, and they use Aiken roadways, and it creates a much larger tax burden for those of us who do pay taxes here," he said.

The program started last October. Equipped with an iPad, Terry finds out who has paid and who hasn't. Vehicles that haven't paid get a neon green warning, but there are some exceptions.

"This person's a full-time student at USC Aiken, so they were exempt, and the case has been closed, so they won't be getting anything," he said.

Active military and visitors are exempt, too. But even with the exceptions, Terry stays very busy earning the county extra revenue.

"Last year, the county, in out-of-state vehicle revenue, was up to like $125,000," he said.

That means he paid back the county the amount of his salary a few times and the price tag of his vehicle, too. The program has been so successful Aiken County Council recently approved a new tag officer to help Terry tackle a massive workload.

Terry says most people pay without a problem. He says they just didn't know they had to.

Of course, Terry's job isn't an easy one. He writes so many warnings a day, and in addition, has to follow up on old ones.

Ultimately, he says the program has some other benefits, too. With him and other deputies riding around apartment complexes, particularly at night, it really discourages break-ins and burglaries. He says the impact really can't be quantified.