California Governor Jerry Brown signed a license plate law that will go into effect in 2019.
Some of you may recall that Steve Jobs refused to put a license plate on the back of his car. It became quite the mystery in Silicon Valley and at Apple’s Campus - Wired even wrote about it in 2010. It is actually legal in California to drive without a license plate for 90 days (the law was shortened from six months to 90 days in July 2012). Car dealerships generally have up to 30 days to file the necessary paperwork when someone buys a new or used car. Once the paperwork is received it can take another four or six weeks for the license plates to arrive in the mail. In the interim the dealership will tape a temporary registration tag in the front window. This is the case for purchasing a vehicle in the private-party, generally the license plate will stay on the car unless the seller of the vehicle specifically wants to keep them in the case of vanity plates, etc. In this case the seller would fill out special forms to keep the plates and the buyer would need to get temporary tags from the DMV.
Jobs took advantage of the loophole by driving a brand-new car for six months without getting a license plate and then turn it in for an identical car every six months thereafter. He could afford to drive a new vehicle every six months and avoid having to put a license plate on his car. This all changed last Monday when Governor Brown signed a new law into place that does away with the loophole beginning in 2019. Most states in the nation already require newly bought cars to be issued temporary license plates and now California will join. The law will also create a system to allow car sellers to report details of the sale to the DMV, including the date of sale and the names and addresses of the dealer and purchaser.
The bill AB516 was the work of Tem Kevin Mullin - who was motivated by the hit-and-run death of Michael Bonanomi. He was killed in 2013 after a car that had paper dealer plates hit and killed him and the driver was never identified. The law will also help California collect roughly $19 million a year in bridge and road tolls that the state loses due to unidentifiable cars.
Drivers in California will no longer be able to leisurely wait to put on their license plates and the state will in turn make additional revenue.
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