I've gotten some calls and offlist emails about California's confusing registration processes, and I'm hoping the following (except for the first one) may help in that regard. They're from varying California sources.
(It's best to post questions online, though, so that all our CCOC members can pitch in with their experiences.)
Something I'll try to avoid doing in the future is to have total strangers come to look at a car for sale at my home address. In the future I'll arrange to meet at a neutral location, like a public parking lot or local school. A couple of scam artists tried to convince me that the car I was selling had water in the oil and therefore had a cracked block. The one guy had kept me busy at the rear of the car while his buddy pulled the dipstick and added some spit to the clean oil on the stick before coming to the back to show me the signs of disaster. I had him wipe the dipstick and re-check the oil as I watched, and shock of shocks, it came out clean. They still tried to get it for a discount price and I countered by saying the price had just gone up by $200 over the original asking price. They got very nasty and started shouting and calling me names as they got into
their car and drove off. Very unsettling to know that this pair had my address.
Never again when selling a regular car to a total stranger.
An easy, safe way I have used for years is to take title and buyer to the auto club and pay the fees and watch the title leave your name. We all can guess the amount due and sell accordingly. Voila - no problems.
We sold our old wagon some years ago and the new owner managed to rack up parking tickets on 3 consecutive nights in SF prior to transferring title to their name. Of course, they did not pay the tickets.
First inkling of this was a notice from the collection agency about 6-9 months after the sale. I had turned in our Release of Liability form, but I'd taken it to the DMV office in person - only to be told that it had to go directly to Sacramento, not to any local office. I then made the mistake of putting the envelope into the DMV's inter-office mail box on advice of the clerk. Should have put it in the mail.
I sent the collection agency an affidavit of non-responsibility and contacted the DMV who said they had no record of the Liability release. I sent them a copy of the copy I'd kept, but the buyer's information on the original hadn't been very clear and the copies were less clear.
Six months later I got another set of letters from the collection agency demanding payment. I sent off a 2nd round of affidavits with copies from the first round. Contacted the DMV again. A nice clerk bent/broke the rules and gave me some information on the registered owner, and it wasn't the girl who came as the buyer OR her brother who came to check the car out for her. The name and address of the new registered owner were totally different from the information the buyer had put on the liability release that I sent in.
That said, it doesn't matter if the car is titled by and registered by the folks you sell to; what is important is that you send in the Release, and even more important is that the DMV processes it instead of misplacing it for a year or more.
AFIKs run for a term of one year concurrent with the registration schedule for your car. If, one week before the end of your non-op year, you go in to register the car, they will charge you retroactively for the entire year's registration fees and then charge you forward for the next year's fee. The anniversary on which your registration is due does not change because it went on Non-Op.
The simple solution is to renew the Non-op for $10 and then do the road registration right after the new term starts.
If you did pay for and file a planned non-operation for any
vehicle, you will get a yearly notice sent from the DMV for the vehicle in question, so you should have annual proof of the registration
status of your PNO vehicles. If you have any proof of prior
registration like your last registration card, that might help prove when you first filed your PNO, but you should also file a Statement of Facts with the DMV. Use as many adjectives
as possible to describe your reasons for not having to pay the fees or penalties for a vehicle you PNO years ago, as it is the DMV that has lost the records on it, so you are swearing an oath under penalty of prosecution that the statement you are
signing to is the truth. It should include not being operated on a public roadway and not having been left standing on a public roadway as to cause registration fees to become due. Be careful about towing PNO cars on a trailer without a temporary moving permit; if you offload a PNO on a public road you could be cited for lack of
registration and insurance, so do this on private property! If
you get in a wreck with a PNO on a trailer, research if you
require insurance to cover the PNO and/or on the tow vehicle to
cover any property damage that your towed PNO might do if it
comes off your trailer and hits a parked Ferrari for instance.
A friend found he was being sued for damages
when his PNO hit a parked car when his hired transport company
had an accident dropping its entire load of vehicles but the
transport company's insurance coverage for property damage was
lacking adequate coverage, so my friend had to pay the property
damages that his launched PNO caused to a parked car himself!
(His decrepit car was
launched from the transport and T-boned a restored VW deluxe 21-window bus parked in front of the restoration company that did the work, waiting for a customer to pick it up. It was valued over $40K. The VW Bus was restored for a second time, but on my friend's dime,
requiring a second mortgage for him.
I have several cars on permanent non-op status, one for over 25 years. I get notices like clockwork. If I didn't get one, I would be very
worried and find out why. It requires some organization of your renewal dates for your PNO cars; a simple score sheet kept handy and checked against a calendar works for me.
Understand that there is a NEW PNO situation to be aware of: if you cancel insurance on your currently-registered vehicle, your insurance company will automatically inform the DMV; the DMV will rescind your current registration and mail you a PNO. FILL IT OUT! Even though you have paid
your fees and have stickers for your plates that are good for the
rest of the current calendar year's registration, you are now dead in the water. To reinstate the registration, you pay
additional fees and you must have proof of insurance provided from your insurance carrier. If anyone is still unaware of this new rule, you can reinstate a suspended vehicle's registration online on the DMV web site (see the link below.)
Vehicle registrations are subject to suspension (CVC §4000.38) when:
* DMV is notified that an insurance policy has been canceled and a replacement policy has not been submitted within 45 days.
* Insurance information is not submitted to DMV within 30 days of the issuance of a registration card upon initial registration or transfer of ownership.
* The registration is obtained by providing false evidence of insurance.
If you have received a letter from the Department of Motor
Vehicles stating your vehicle registration will be suspended in
the near future or has already been suspended, you may submit your
insurance information and/or reinstatement fee through one of the following options:
* The Vehicle Registration Suspensions and Insurance
> page at
DMV.ca.gov that provides up-to-date vehicle registration insurance suspension status and reinstatement requirements including options to submit a reinstatement fee payment, submit insurance information, and submit/remove an Affidavit of Non-Use (ANU), you can mail the detachable stub from your notification
letter with proof of liability insurance and/or reinstatement
fee payment through remittance to:
PO Box 997405
You can mail the proof of liability insurance and/or reinstatement fee payment to:
DMV - VIP Unit
PO Box 997408 MS N305
Sacramento, CA 95899-7408
You can call the automated voice system at 1-800-777-0133 to verify registration insurance suspension status, submit a
reinstatement fee payment, submit proof of liability insurance, and submit/remove an ANU.
gotten back from the DMV, the concept of the NON-OP is that you pay the DMV up front to
tell them that the vehicle will not be on the roads, and to keep it in the system.
In my case, off the roads
since 1998; Non-op filed.
I, being a good citizen, attempted to pay my fees to get it back on the road. But it had been out of the system for 10 years, and the non-op
disappeared, so today I had to haul it down to the DMV to get it
verified, given new plates, (and they misread the engine number, so the
verified number has nothing to do with the real number.)
You can keep insurance on a vehicle while non-op is in place. That
should not be a problem.
I think the most likely situation is that someone got a parking
ticket and the wrong license plate number was written down.
Time for another letter to the DMV, requesting proof of any citation or
other evidence of operation on the highways. Send a copy to
the collection agency. I did that for a client, and the collection agency sent a copy of a citation within 3 weeks. The client had operated the car.
You could call your insurance agent and see if your own ins. company /itself/ notified the DMV that your auto policy covering the vehicle in question was somehow reactivated; perhaps you pulled it off the ins. policy and put another vehicle on that same policy, but in its place, as I can do with my own ins. policies, (my
cars are not insured as a group; rather each are individually insured
on separate policies), this could easily confuse the DMV, as
insurance companies are legally required in CA to notify the state DMV
of any change to an insured vehicle's status, as the validity of that vehicle's
registration could be put in jeopardy as removal of state-mandated
insurance requirements will require the vehicle to be taken off the
road and non-opped immediately - which, if you don't do correctly,
causes you a realproblem to straighten out later on, like if you wish to restart the insurance and the registration for the current renewal period, not the next year's renewal period, to be clear.
This wasn't a problem before this new reporting requirement
was enacted in CA; you could simply call your ins. agent, put your
car's policy in suspense and ride out the remainder of your CA
registration for that one year, then you could non-op the car at its
regularly-scheduled renewal time for the following year. Not any
Insurance companies in CA might claim you have to fully insure your car regardless of actually using it, even when it is
non-opped, which is not actually true; you could simply put your vehicle's
ins. policy in suspense, pay just the comprehensive section a few dollars; this keeps the policy active and allows you to reactivate the policy when you desire to, but you do have to comply with the new DMV nonsense to
reactivate the suspended registration if you are doing all of this
activity within one registration renewal period.
With a mistaken-identity claim, you have to
understand what the specific confusion is based on to attempt to
rectify it. What is the proof the DMV claims to have that supports a
violation has taken place with this vehicle?
I have a DMV problem. It seemed easy when it first
happened with my 1942 that has been on a shelf since 2000 and on non-op.
A year ago I got a letter saying that DMV had proof that I was
using this on the street. I sent them a letter and pictures of it. I thought it was over.
Last week I got a demand letter for over $500 and a request for proof of insurance for it. I sent them a new letter and a request for them to show
me the proof and "please take it off my DMV records." I know
that DMV has been factoring some of their collections. Is it legal for them to sell a debt for collection in
the first place? Can they do it without proving that I am wrong and they are right?
In the past I have gotten tickets in the mail that proved to be misdigits. The description always cleared them. They were parking tickets miles from where I live.
AFIK they run for a term of one year concurrent with the registration
schedule for your car. If one week before the end of your non-op year you go in to register the car, they will charge you retroactively for the entire year's registration fees and then charge you forward for the next year's fee.
The Anniversary on which your registration is due does not change because
it went on Non-Op. The simple solution is to renew the Non-Op for $10 and then do the road registration right after the new term starts.
If you pull your limited-use vehicle out of storage, by reinstating the insurance and then the DMV registration you're stuck paying that year's full registration all the same. If you're going to use your car when you want to use it, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet or never PNO your vehicle, which isn't practical, but beware of fees that are avoidable!
My favorite DMV employee reply to a problematic collector car title and
registration problem is "this looks like a case of lost paper work", followed by the tenured employee shredding the problematic paper trail of stapled-together incoherent bills of sales to multiple prior parties, your lack of any PNO, no plates, nothing. You must now rely on the DMV's records alone ... which is typically nothing. if you're honest and not
pulling a con, you sign a comprehensive Statement of Facts. If you find yourself a DMV angel who will not release the DMV supervisor from hell on you, please pay up, do not look the employee straight in the eye to cause any change of heart, collect your proof of payment, registration, plates and stickers, walk do not run out to your car, go home following all the rules of the road, and wait for your title to come in the mail.