August 16, 2013 10:26:15 AM
BILOXI -- The Biloxi Lighthouse soon will be a beacon of a different sort. The image will be helping law enforcement officers in South Mississippi to identify drivers who haven't renewed their license plates.
Every five years, the state introduces new plates. The distinctive lighthouse tag with a purple background, unveiled in 2007, honored the resilience of South Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
Joe Tucker, Jackson County tax collector, tells The Sun Herald as of Oct. 1, it will be an illegal tag.
B.B. King's guitar Lucille is featured on the new blues plate. It was introduced Oct. 1 to salute Mississippi's musical heritage. By Sept. 30, unless they have a specialized plate, "everybody should have one," Tucker said.
The county gives drivers an extra 15 days to renew without penalty, Tucker said, but the law isn't so lenient. Drivers can receive a ticket the day after their plates expire.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller said the fines for expired plates vary by city and are set by the municipal judge. In Biloxi the fine is $200 -- which is on top of the cost of a new plate and the penalty for late renewal.
The five traffic divisions in Biloxi issue 15 to 20 citations a week for expired tags, and Miller said, "They're not really out looking,"
They won't have to look hard for the lighthouse plates, which will stand out after Oct. 1.