As a second-degree felony, falsifying license plate registration tags is a crime punishable by the same prison time as manslaughter, drug-dealing or sex abuse.

But few people think of it as a serious crime, says Davis County chief prosecutor Carvel Harward.Harward, who says he's seen an increase in tag falsifications, said it would be better to drive on an expired registration - a class B misdemeanor punishable by a small fine.

Registration falsification could bring a prison term of one-to-10 years and a fine of $10,000.

While the maximum penalties rarely are imposed, Harward noted a felony conviction can prove a major barrier to some employment.

Harward said legislation will be introduced next year to change the criminal code, making false registration a lesser offense.

But until that happens, "it's one crime that will continue to carry a disproportionate amount of grief for the perpetrator," Harward said.