When you own a vehicle in California, you must register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Although there are limited exceptions, you are generally not allowed to drive, park, or move your car without proof of valid and up-to-date registration.
California Vehicle Code (CVC) §4000a1 is the legislation that regulates vehicle registration requirements in our state. It provides the details, definitions, and exceptions you need to follow California registration laws successfully. Learn more from Simmrin Law Group about registering your car under CVC §4000a1 and what you should do if you’re not in compliance.
Do You Need to Register Your Car in California?
According to CVC §4000a1, you need to register your vehicle in California if you:
- Drive it: All vehicles in operation on California roadways, whether driven by their owner or another driver, must be registered.
- Move it: You must also have valid transportation if you transport your car from one place to another, such as by tow truck or transport vehicle.
- Park it: Even if you plan to park your car and not drive it, you should still register it in most cases. This includes on-street parking and many off-street parking facilities.
You must register a new motor vehicle purchased from a private party within 10 days of the sale. If you move here with your car that already has valid tags from another state, you are allowed 20 days to contact the DMV to get your California plates and registration.
Are There Exceptions to CVC §4000a1?
This section of the vehicle code applies to most California vehicle owners, but cars parked in certain off-street facilities may be exempt. CVC §4000a1 only requires you to provide proof of registration if your vehicle is:
- Parked in an off-street publicly owned parking facility.
- Parked in a privately-owned off-street parking facility that does not charge a fee.
The code states that this subdivision does not apply to a vehicle being stored in a private off-street facility by that facility’s owner. It also exempts vehicles stored in these private facilities with the express permission of the parking facility’s owner.
How Do You Register a Vehicle with the DMV?
To transfer ownership and register a new vehicle, you will be required to mail in a form or visit your local DMV location with the following documentation:
- The title: Also called a “pink slip,” this document must be signed by the previous owner.
- A Bill of Sale: If the seller is not the person named on the title, you will need this document signed by both parties as proof that the transaction is valid.
- A current odometer reading: For cars under 10 years old, write the current mileage on the title or a REG 262 form signed by you and the seller.
- Smog certification: All cars sold in California must pass a smog check. The seller is responsible for getting the car smogged and providing you with a copy of the certification document at the time of sale.
- Fees and taxes: You will only receive your registration once you pay all applicable fees and sales tax.
You will also need to renew your vehicle’s registration every year with the DMV to ensure that it stays valid. This can often be done by paying the renewal fee online or through the mail using the renewal notice mailed to you by the DMV.
The DMV will then issue you a registration expiration sticker for your license plate and a printed registration card that you should always keep in your car. These serve as evidence that your registration is up to date.
What Happens if Your Vehicle Is Not Registered?
If you violate this section of the California Vehicle Code by not carrying proof of your car’s registration, a police officer could give you a citation. However, this is a relatively minor violation classified as an infraction.
The penalty for violating §4000a1 is a fine of $280, though the total you owe can be much higher because of additional fees and court costs. However, this is generally a “fix-it” ticket, which means a judge will dismiss your ticket and waive your fines if you appear in court with proof of valid registration.
Note that even though you will not be responsible for paying the $280 fine or other costs related to the ticket in this scenario, the court will probably charge you a $25 court dismissal fee.
Don’t Fight the Courts on Your Own – Talk to an Attorney Today
A violation of Vehicle Code §4000a1 is a relatively minor offense, but you may find yourself facing more significant consequences than you anticipate. This is because officers don’t often issue this ticket as a stand-alone citation. Instead, they usually add it after stopping you for another violation like speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence.
Additionally, if you presented proof of registration that you knew was not valid, you could be charged with vehicle registration fraud. With the dependable, knowledgeable attorneys from the Simmrin Law Group on your legal team, you don’t have to fight the courts on your own.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how we can help you!