Aiken Co. officers hunt out-of-state plates in school car lines

News 12 at First at Five / Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- The Aiken County Sheriff's Office and the City of North Augusta have teamed up for a special mission. The suspects they're hunting down are not outlaws but out-of-state plates.

"If you are using that car, and you're going to have that car in your control for over 45 days, you are responsible for going to the tax office and paying the taxes on that vehicle," said Deputy Brad Terry with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, who heads up the somewhat new program.

News 12 rode along with Deputy Terry before as he wrote a stack of neon green warnings to people with out-of-state plates living at an Aiken apartment complex. This time, Terry and his new help, Deputy Angela Craig, hunted out-of-state plates in school car lines.

"One of the main complaints that we would receive at the Sheriff's Office was out-of-state vehicles in school car lines here in Aiken County," Terry said.

"This vehicle has a New York tag on it," said North Augusta Code Enforcement Officer Jason Sikes, as he wrote out a warning to a driver in the car line at Mossy Creek Elementary in North Augusta.

He found out the motorist had lived in Aiken County for five years without buying a South Carolina plate and thus paying vehicle property taxes. Sikes also helps tackle the out-of-state plate problem for the City of North Augusta.

"Basically, when you pay your taxes on your tag on your vehicle, that money is used to help support the school system," Sikes said.

After all the students were picked up from Mossy Creek, the three officers had written a stack of warnings and earned the schools a lot of revenue.

Terry says they're not done.

"Every day during this school year, we're going to be checking the car lines in the morning and in the afternoons looking for these out-of-state plates," Terry said.

There are a few exceptions: if you're a visitor, if you've lived in Aiken County for less than 45 days, you're a full-time student or if you're active duty.

Terry says if you get a warning, don't ignore it. They follow up on each case, and if you drag your feet, he says they'll take you to court.

If you suspect that a vehicle owner is evading personal property tax, click here to report it to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

From the Sheriff's Office: "This system can be used to report possible tax evader tips and to check on the status of previous reports. You are not required to enter any personal information to use this system. Please have the tag number, state and address available when you report an out-of-state or expired vehicle tag. Both expired S.C. tags and out-of-state tags may be reported using this form. If you would like to speak with a deputy to report an out-of-state or expired tag, you may call (803) 502-3216."

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