By Nuria Mathog
California vehicle owners with car registrations scheduled to expire next month have been given a temporary reprieve; due to a state licensing law passed in May, these owners will be granted an additional month in which to make payments. The state Department of Motor Vehicles will not begin accepting payments from July and August registrants until this time.
Last month, Governor Brown signed into law SB 94, a bill that alters the statutes overseeing the billing and renewal process for vehicle registration fees due July 1 and later. The bill eliminated a former DMV policy providing vehicle owners with a 60-day advance notification of their registration’s pending expiration date. Furthermore, it implemented a 30-day grace period for owners who meet the expiration date criteria-provided that the registration renewal payment is made within 30 days of the vehicle’s expiration date, the owner will receive no penalty or fees.
SB 94 was the product of a joint effort between Governor Brown and state legislators to buy time while negotiating a budget deal that would extend high licensing fees.
Under previous license law, vehicle fees for July registrants would have dropped from 1.15 percent of total vehicle value to 0.65 percent: an overall reduction of $1 for every $200 of vehicle worth. However, the governor and state Democrats expressed concern that if the fee extensions passed, drivers would be billed twice-once for the lower amount, and once for the original amount.
The bill will remain operative until January 1, 2012.
Because of the new policy, state law enforcement agencies have been instructed to waive late vehicle registrations in July. Insurance officials say that drivers unable to update their license plates immediately will continue to receive coverage.
The changes to the law are viewable online at the California DMV’s website.