Sec. 255. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person shall not operate, nor shall an owner knowingly permit to be operated, upon any highway, a vehicle required to be registered under this act unless there is attached to and displayed on the vehicle, as required by this chapter, a valid registration plate issued for the vehicle by the department for the current registration year. A registration plate shall not be required upon any wrecked or disabled vehicle, or vehicle destined for repair or junking, which is being transported or drawn upon a highway by a wrecker or a registered motor vehicle.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who violates subsection (1) is responsible for a civil infraction. However, if the vehicle is a commercial vehicle which is required to be registered according to the schedule of elected gross vehicle weights under section 801(1)(k), 1 the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
(3) A person who operates a vehicle licensed under the international registration plan and does not have a valid registration due to nonpayment of the apportioned fee is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or by a fine of not more than $100.00, or both. In addition, a police officer may impound the vehicle until a valid registration is obtained. If the vehicle is impounded, the towing and storage costs of the vehicle, and the care or preservation of the load in the vehicle shall be the owner's responsibility. Vehicles impounded shall be subject to a lien in the amount of the apportioned fee and any fine and costs incurred under this subsection, subject to a valid lien of prior record. If the apportioned fee, fine, and costs are not paid within 90 days after impoundment, then following a hearing before the judge or magistrate who imposed the fine and costs, the judge or magistrate shall certify the unpaid judgment to the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation occurred. The prosecuting attorney shall enforce the lien by foreclosure sale in accordance with the procedure authorized by law for chattel mortgage foreclosures.
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