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California Temporary License Plates Get a Serious Facelift

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Los Angeles Personal Injury and Accident Lawyers - Etehad Law > Legal Advice  > California Temporary License Plates Get a Serious Facelift

California Temporary License Plates Get a Serious Facelift


California Temporary License Plates Get a Serious Facelift

Most Californians who bought cars prior to August 2016 are used to receiving placeholders instead of license plates. Though these temporary pieces of paper were designed to fit right into license-plate holders, they bore the names of dealerships instead of distinct identifying codes.

Near the end of July 2016, State Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that significantly changed the rules on paper license plates. If all goes as planned, this could give personal injury victims a major advantage when it comes to seeking justice. Fortunately, the Etehad Law team has compiled all the facts drivers need to know to stay legal.


Are Temporary Plates Gone for Good?
Temporary license plates fulfill a necessary role for new drivers whose paperwork hasn’t yet made it through the often-slow DMV. Instead of getting rid of them entirely, the law is drastically changing their form.

Old plates were just fillers that did little more than advertise for car salespeople. The new ones actually have to include distinct identifying information. The rules, contained in Assembly Bill No. 516, mandate that the DMV must create a system to let dealers and lessor-retailers electronically report each vehicle sale and issue a temporary plate with a special code at the time of purchase.


Potential New Penalties
One important aspect of this law is that it creates some new crimes. For instance, counterfeiting a temporary license plate will become a felony. Those who display plates that weren’t issued for their vehicle or give the wrong registration to law enforcement officials may also face criminal charges. In addition, new owners are responsible for making sure the temporary plates are destroyed when they register their vehicle.

People who are found guilty of acquiring, selling, displaying or otherwise attempting to use the wrong registration information may also be assessed various fines between $250 and $1,000. If deemed guilty of misdemeanors, they could spend six months in county jail.


How Does This Change Existing Rules?
The old law operated on a kind of honor system. New vehicle owners were legally permitted to drive around with non-identifying placeholder plates for as long as 90 days before registering their vehicles. This often led to accidents where police couldn’t determine who was at fault because the victims were struck by drivers with placeholder plates.

The new law doesn’t go into effect immediately. According to the Bill’s current language, it becomes operational on January 1, 2019, but opponents say the possibility of new fines might raise big problems for some drivers. Mistakes by the DMV could result in people being fined when their plates don’t show up within the allotted 90 days or when dealers make errors.

Although people can fight back against incorrect fines, they might need to go to court or provide their proof of DMV registration paperwork. One major advantage of the law is that it could make it easier to prosecute people who cause accidents and try to flee the scene.

How do you feel about the new temporary license plate law? Were you hit by a driver who had temporary dealer plates? Share your opinions in the comments, or subscribe to the Etehad Law blog for more news.