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FOX43 Finds Out: Eliminating the registration sticker saves PA money, so where is that extra cash going now?

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HARRISBURG, Pa -- The sticker on your license plate that might remind you your vehicle registration is about to expire is no more.

PennDOT is retiring the registration stickers starting January 1st.

You'll still have to register your vehicle and pay for it.

"You'll still be required to have current registration, you'll still need to present your registration card to law enforcement if you're asked to do so," said Alexis Campbell, community relations director for PennDOT.

So why say bye to the sticker?

Campbell says PennDOT spends about $3 million a year on those little stickers.

"It cost us about $1.1 million in product costs just for the sticker itself and then about $2 million just to mail it out to all of our customers every year."

This is all part of Act 89, a transportation bill passed back in 2013.

Campbell says that $3 million will now be spent elsewhere, for things like maintaining and repairing bridges, infrastructure and roads.

But what if you used the sticker as a friendly reminder to renew your registration?

"They'll still get noticed by PennDOT when it's time to renew your vehicle," said Campbell.

Campbell says you'll get the invitation to renew by snail mail.

PennDOT also found that 40% of drivers already renew their registration online.

so now, PennDOT allows you to re-register and print your new registration all at once, again saving the department money.

You can also now register for two years, instead of one

The change also affects law enforcement.

They no longer can tell your registration is expired by your colored sticker.

"They have real-time access to PennDOT's database, so they'll know if the registration is current or not without the sticker. They're still able to run your plate and find out that information," said Campbell.

Some departments have automated license plates readers, those are expensive, though.

Elsag North America makes some systems that can cost $15,000.

Many small departments can't afford that.

Some don't even have computers in the patrol vehicle to access PennDOT's data.

That means they'll have to call a county dispatch to get that information.

Even with the inconvenience for some police departments, PennDOT says it's worth getting rid of the stickers.

Places like New Jersey and provinces in Canada also don't use a registration anymore.

Penn State University did a study on this before Act 89 was passed, finding that it could work.

Campbell said, "In all the other jurisdictions where stickers were eliminated, there was no difference in registration compliance."

Now if your registration is up between now and the 31st, you will still need to get a sticker.

This change will go into effect after December 31st.