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CHP to crackdown on out-of-state registration

by Gregory Crofton, Tribune staff writer

South Shore drivers with out-of-state registration beware.

California Highway Patrol is cracking down on residents who have their car registered in another state.

In 1999, there were 27.5 million vehicles driven in California and CHP estimates that more than 2 million of those had out-of-state registration.



“Statewide, we’re bringing it back full force because we’re losing millions of dollars,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Rich Valdez. “It’s a big problem at Lake Tahoe.”

Rule of thumb: anyone who works in California needs to register in state after 20 days of employment, even if the vehicle is owned by another party.




Valdez said he recorded 45 suspect plates on a recent two-hour cruise around South Shore neighborhoods. CHP in Meyers has assigned two officers to work the California Resident Foreign Registration program.

“I guarantee you that every single street in Lake Tahoe area has at least a couple of vehicles registered out of state,” Valdez said. “We’ll probably lead the state in funds recovered.”

Bumper stickers and patrolling residential neighborhoods are two ways CHP identifies residents with foreign registration, he said.

The only residents of South Lake Tahoe allowed to keep their out-of-state car registrations are drivers who own a vacation home, they live in the area less than six months, and those who are employed by the military.

However, if someone is unemployed and living in California, they are permitted to keep out-of-state registration for up to six months.

Often South Shore residents who live in California illegally registered their vehicles in Nevada because it was a lot less expensive to do so, Valdez said. But since 1997 California has eliminated its smog tax and has gradually lowered its vehicle licensing fee to the point where it now costs only slightly more money to register a car in California.

In Nevada, it costs $159 to register a 1995 vehicle valued at $20,000. In California, it costs $167 to register the same vehicle. DMV spokesperson Evan Nossoff said before the state made licensing fee cuts, it cost $240 to register the vehicle in California.

Valdez hopes to gain voluntary compliance from drivers with foreign registration. Violators will be written up by CHP and receive a letter informing them to apply for a California registration.

If they don’t comply, the DMV will flag their account and charge them 40 percent over the normal registration fee. Valdez said if drivers fail to contact the DMV, he will issue citations and the matter will be settled in court or by the Franchise Tax Board.

“This is where it gets nasty,” he said. “The DMV can forward the case to the tax board and impose a tax lien. It can go as far as seizing the vehicle.”

Restrictions also apply to drivers who live in Nevada and make daily trips to California. The DMV requires that the driver buy a commuter sticker that costs $7 a year.


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