(a) There shall be one uniform registration renewal form to be used statewide. Such form shall be designed so as to provide for both the transfer of ownership and the registration of the vehicle. All receipts shall be sent to the county agencies charged with handling vehicle registration. Receipts may be provided to the registrant in a tangible format or in an electronic format, as prescribed by the department. The state and the county shall capture the color of the motor vehicle in their permanent records. This subsection shall not give the Department of Revenue authority to centralize vehicle registration. Centralized registration is specifically prohibited and it is the legislative intent that automotive vehicle registration shall remain at the county level.
(b)(1) A penalty of fifteen dollars ($15) shall be assessed by the official charged with issuing motor vehicle licenses for the late registration of a motor vehicle. "Late registration of a motor vehicle" shall include (1) the failure to register the vehicle within 20 calendar days of the date of purchase or acquisition; (2) the failure to renew the registration in the designated renewal month; and (3) the failure to register the vehicle in accordance with the provisions of Section 40-12-262(a). It shall be the duty of all sheriffs, police officers, state troopers, license inspectors, deputy license inspectors, field agents of the Department of Revenue, and other law enforcement officers to arrest any person operating a motor vehicle without the current license plate displaying the proper validation decal. Persons apprehended for operating a motor vehicle without the current license plate, upon conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction, shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars ($25).
(2) Notwithstanding subdivision (1), any person on military deployment during any part of his or her designated registration renewal month, except a person with a discharge characterization of dishonorable or other than honorable, who renews his or her motor vehicle registration within 30 calendar days from the date the deployment ends shall not be assessed a late registration penalty or associated interest charges. Evidence of military deployment shall be documented using military deployment orders, a government issued Statement of Service letter, Form DD214 Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or a letter from the registrant's unit commander certifying the date that his or her deployment ended.
(c) All penalties assessed by this section shall be distributed in the same manner as motor vehicle licenses and registration fees are distributed as provided in Sections 40-12-269 and 40-12-270. Portions of Section 40-12-10 as they may conflict with this section, are hereby repealed and superseded.