CHP cracks down on out-of-state registration scofflaws

If your neighbors have been driving a car with license plates from Oregon for the entire time you’ve lived next to them, the California Highway Patrol encourages you to report them. “Every year, the state loses millions of dollars in revenue from California residents who unlawfully registering their vehicles in other states or countries,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “With the help of the public, and our investigators, we’re able to return much needed funding to the state to help maintain our infrastructure.” Last year, the agency’s “CHEATERS,” or Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws, program netted more than $1 million in fees from violators. If you see someone driving with an out-of-state plate, report it anonymously online at www.chp.ca.gov.  Make sure to include the vehicle’s license plate number, the state it’s from, the date, place and time observed, as well as its make, model and color. If you can, mention any decals, bumper stickers, license plate frames, or any other visual clues investigators can use to track down the violator. On a similar note, I happen to have a friend who is visiting from Texas for three weeks. Her SUV has tinted windows in places the state of California prohibits them. The California Vehicle Code states that “A person shall not drive any motor vehicle with any object or material placed, displayed, installed, affixed, or applied in or upon the vehicle that obstructs or reduces the driver’s clear view through the windshield or side windows.” I and another friend got into a debate about whether an officer would stop and cite her for them. My friend said he thought a cop would most definitely write her a ticket. I said, “no way.” I didn’t think an officer would stop her for the tint unless she had made some moving violation to cause the officer to pause. And even if she was stopped, I thought that the officer wouldn’t cite her for the windows once he or she took a glance at my friend’s vehicle registration, driver’s license and insurance. Wanting a professional opinion, I asked Officer High Holden of the CHP. Here’s what he said: “Your friend is right. Although the visitor from Texas may have a ‘legal’ car in that state, here in California, it has some violations. An officer can certainly make an enforcement stop on any vehicle he or she has probable cause to believe is in violation of the CVC. Once it’s determined the vehicle is in fact visiting from out of state, the officer will likely -- but is not required to -- let the ‘mechanical’ violation slide. Especially for violations which may not even exist in other states, such as some states only issue one license plate or allow front tinted windows. That said, a visitor to California should comply as best as possible with all other laws. Speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and DUI are not forgiven just because the driver is ‘visiting.’ I have stopped people for blowing through stop signs and have had them say, ‘I didn't know, I'm from, 'fill in the state.’' My answer to them is, ‘I understand that, but they do have stop signs in your state, as well, right?’ Usually that shuts down that argument. Another one to watch out for is if the visitor's state has a .10 percent blood alcohol DUI presumptive limit, they will still be held to the .08 percent California limit if arrested here. Also, visitors are reminded that California considers someone a resident as soon as they are living and/or working in this state. That requires them to get a California driver license and register their vehicle here.” The Department of Motor Vehicles gives new residents to the state 20 days to register their vehicle, unless they have a special permit.
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