Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH

DIVISION 3. REGISTRATION OF VEHICLES AND CERTIFICATES OF TITLE [4000 - 9808]

  ( Division 3 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 1. Original and Renewal of Registration; Issuance of Certificates of Title [4000 - 5506]

  ( Chapter 1 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

ARTICLE 8.6. Specialized License Plates [5151 - 5169]
  ( Article 8.6 added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. )

5151.
  

(a) As used in this article, “state agency” means a state office, officer, department, division, bureau, board, or commission, or any other state body or agency.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that this article contain the authority for specialized license plates for state agencies.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5152.
  

A person described in Section 5101 may apply for a specialized license plate under this article, in lieu of regular license plates.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5154.
  

Specialized license plates issued under this article shall have a design or contain a message that publicizes or promotes a state agency, or the official policy, mission, or work of a state agency.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5155.
  

The design criteria for a specialized license plate are as follows:

(a) Except as provided in Section 5161, the license plate for a passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, or trailer shall provide a space not larger than two inches by three inches to the left of the numerical series and a space not larger than five-eighths of an inch in height below the numerical series for a distinctive design, decal, or descriptive message as authorized by this article. The license plates shall be issued in sequential numerical order or, pursuant to Section 5103, in a combination of numbers or letters.

(b) Specialized license plates authorized under this article may be issued for use on a motorcycle. That license plate shall contain a five-digit configuration issued in sequential numerical order or, pursuant to Section 5103, in a combination of numbers or letters. There shall be a space to the left of the numerical series for a distinctive design or decal and the characters shall contrast sharply with the uniform background color. A motorcycle plate containing a full plate graphic design is not authorized.

(c) Specialized license plates may be issued as environmental license plates, as defined in Section 5103.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 39, Sec. 112. (SB 1018) Effective June 27, 2012.)

5156.
  

(a) (1) A state agency may apply to the department to sponsor a specialized license plate program, and the department shall issue specialized license plates for that program, if the agency complies with all of the requirements of this article.

(2) The department shall not issue specialized license plates to a state agency for a vehicle that is exempt from the payment of registration fees pursuant to Section 9101 or 9103.

(b) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the department shall not establish a specialized license plate program for an agency until the department has received not less than 7,500 applications for that agency’s specialized license plates. The agency shall collect and hold applications for the plates. Once the agency has received at least 7,500 applications, it shall submit the applications, along with the necessary fees, to the department. The department shall not issue a specialized license plate until the agency has received and submitted to the department not less than 7,500 applications for that particular specialized license plate within the time period prescribed in this section. Advance payment to the department by the agency representing the department’s estimated or actual administrative costs associated with the issuance of a particular specialized license plate shall not constitute compliance with this requirement. The agency shall have 12 months, following the date of approval of the agency’s initial application to sponsor a specialized license plate program, to receive the required number of applications. If, after that 12 months, 7,500 applications have not been received, the agency shall immediately do either of the following:

(1) Refund to all applicants all fees or deposits that have been collected.

(2) Contact the department to indicate the agency’s intent to undertake collection of additional applications and fees or deposits for an additional period, not to exceed 12 months, in order to obtain the minimum 7,500 applications. If the agency elects to exercise the option under this subparagraph, it shall contact each applicant who has submitted an application with the appropriate fees or deposits to determine if the applicant wishes a refund of fees or deposits or requests the continuance of the holding of the application and fees or deposits until that time that the agency has received 7,500 applications. The agency shall refund the fees or deposits to an applicant so requesting. The agency shall not collect and hold applications for a period exceeding 24 months following the date of approval of the agency’s initial application to sponsor a specialized license plate program.

(c) (1) If the number of outstanding and valid specialized license plates in a particular program, except as provided in subdivision (d), provided for in this article is less than 7,500, the department shall notify the sponsoring agency of that fact and shall inform the agency that if that number is less than 7,500 one year from the date of that notification, the department will no longer issue or replace those specialized license plates.

(2) Those particular specialized license plates that were issued prior to the discontinuation provided by paragraph (1) may continue to be used and attached to the vehicle for which they were issued and may be renewed, retained, or transferred pursuant to this code.

(d) (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs may sponsor a Gold Star Family specialized license plate program and the department may establish this specialized license plate program in the absence of 7,500 paid applications as provided in subdivision (d) of Section 5157.

(2) The Department of Veterans Affairs shall, upon receiving proof of eligibility from an applicant, authorize the department to issue Gold Star Family specialized license plates for a vehicle owned by an eligible family member of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who was killed in the line of duty while on active duty during wartime service, or during an international terrorist attack that has been recognized by the United States Secretary of Defense as an attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, or during military operations while serving outside the United States, including commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States, or as part of a peacekeeping force, which includes personnel assigned to a force engaged in a peacekeeping operation authorized by the United Nations Security Council. An eligible family member is defined as all of the following:

(A) A person who is otherwise eligible under this article to register a motor vehicle.

(B) A person who shows proof from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense that the member who was in the Armed Forces of the United States was killed in the line of duty while on active duty in the military.

(C) A person who bears, and shows proof satisfactory to the Department of Veterans Affairs of, one of the following relationships to the member of the Armed Forces killed in the line of duty while serving on active duty:

(i) Widow.

(ii) Widower.

(iii) Biological parent.

(iv) Adoptive parent.

(v) Stepparent.

(vi) Foster parent in loco parentis.

(vii) Biological child.

(viii) Adoptive child.

(ix) Stepchild.

(x) Sibling.

(xi) Half-sibling.

(xii) Grandparent.

(xiii) Grandchild.

(3) Upon the death of a person issued a Gold Star Family specialized license plate, the license plate shall be transferred to the surviving spouse, if he or she requests, or shall be returned to the department within 60 days after the death of the plateholder or upon the expiration of the vehicle registration, whichever occurs first.

(e) (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs shall apply to the department to sponsor a veterans specialized license plate program, and the department shall issue license plates for that program if the Department of Veterans Affairs meets the requirements prescribed by this section.

(2) The design of the veterans specialized license plate shall be identical to the design of the veterans special interest license plate issued pursuant to Section 5068 on or before January 1, 2010, and the decals for the plate shall be identical to those offered pursuant to Section 5068.

(3) Notwithstanding Section 5157, in addition to the regular fees for an original registration, a renewal of registration, or a transfer of registration, the following fees shall be paid by individuals applying for a special interest license plate or a decal issued under this subdivision:

(A) Fifty dollars ($50) for the initial issuance of the plates and decals. The plates shall be permanent and shall not be required to be replaced.

(B) Forty dollars ($40) for each renewal of registration that includes the continued display of the plates or decals.

(C) Fifteen dollars ($15) for transfer of the plates to another vehicle.

(D) Thirty-five dollars ($35) for replacement plates, if they become damaged or unserviceable.

(E) Ten dollars ($10) for replacement decals, if they become damaged or unserviceable.

(F) Seventy-eight dollars ($78) for the personalization of the plates.

(4) After deducting its administrative costs under this subdivision, the department shall deposit the revenue derived from the additional fees provided in paragraph (3) in the Veterans Service Office Fund created by Section 972.2 of the Military and Veterans Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 690, Sec. 1. (AB 244) Effective January 1, 2014.)

5156.5.
  

(a) The Office of Emergency Services shall apply to the department to sponsor a domestic violence and sexual assault awareness license plate program pursuant to this article.

(b) The fees specified in Section 5157 shall be imposed for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of specialized license plates authorized by this section. Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, after deducting its administrative costs, the department shall deposit the revenue derived from the additional fees into the California Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Fund, which is hereby established in the State Treasury. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the moneys in that fund shall be allocated to the Office of Emergency Services for purposes of funding the Family Violence Prevention Program described in Section 13823.4 of, and the sexual assault services programs described in Section 13837 of, the Penal Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 268, Sec. 1. (AB 1338) Effective January 1, 2016.)

5156.7.
  

(a) The State Department of Health Care Services shall apply to the department, pursuant to Section 5156, to sponsor a breast cancer awareness license plate program. The department shall issue specialized license plates for that program if the State Department of Health Care Services complies with the requirements of Section 5156.

(b) The State Department of Health Care Services may accept and use donated artwork from California artists for the license plate.

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, the additional fees prescribed by Section 5157 for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the specialized license plates shall be deposited, after the department deducts its administrative costs, in the Breast Cancer Control Account in the Breast Cancer Fund established pursuant to Section 30461.6 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department, in consultation with the State Department of Health Care Services, will design and make available for issuance pursuant to this article special breast cancer awareness license plates. Specifically, it is the intent of the Legislature that the license plates issued pursuant to this section consist of a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon to the left of the numerical series and a breast cancer awareness message, such as, “Early Detection Saves Lives,” below the numerical series.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 303, Sec. 535. (AB 731) Effective January 1, 2016.)

5157.
  

(a) In addition to the regular fees for an original registration or renewal of registration, the following additional fees shall be paid for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the specialized license plates:

(1) For the original issuance of the plates, fifty dollars ($50).

(2) For a renewal of registration with the plates, forty dollars ($40).

(3) For transfer of the plates to another vehicle, fifteen dollars ($15).

(4) For each substitute replacement plate, thirty-five dollars ($35).

(5) In addition, for the issuance of environmental license plates, as defined in Section 5103, with a specialized license plate design, the additional fees prescribed in Sections 5106 and 5108. The additional fees prescribed in Sections 5106 and 5108 shall be deposited in the California Environmental License Plate Fund.

(b) The Gold Star Family specialized license plate program as provided in subdivision (d) of Section 5156 shall not be subject to the fees specified in paragraphs (1), (2), and (5) of subdivision (a) and shall only be issued in a sequential series.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (5) of subdivision (a), and after deducting its administrative costs under this section, the department shall deposit the additional revenue derived from the issuance, renewal, transfer, and substitution of the specialized license plates in the Specialized License Plate Fund, which is hereby established in the State Treasury. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the moneys in that fund shall be allocated to each sponsoring agency, in proportion to the amount in the fund that is attributable to the agency’s specialized license plate program. Except as authorized under Section 5159, the sponsoring agency shall expend all funds received under this section exclusively for projects and programs that promote the state agency’s official policy, mission, or work.

(d) (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs may actively request and receive donations for the Gold Star Family License Plate Account which is hereby created in the Specialized License Plate Fund and which may consist of donations from public and private entities. Earnings generated by the Gold Star Family License Plate Account shall be retained by the account.

(2) Upon the determination of the department that there are sufficient funds in the Gold Star Family License Plate Account for this purpose, moneys in the Gold Star Family License Plate Account shall be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the department for the necessary administrative costs of establishing the Gold Star Family specialized license plate program.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 309, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2009.)

5158.
  

When payment of renewal fees is not required as specified in Section 4000, or when a person determines to retain the specialized license plate upon a sale, trade, or other release of the vehicle upon which the plate has been displayed, the person shall notify the department and the person may retain and use the plate as authorized by departmental regulations.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5159.
  

A state agency that is eligible to participate in a specialized license plate program pursuant to this article and receives funds from the additional fees collected from the sale of specialized plates shall not expend annually more than 25 percent of those funds on administrative costs, marketing, or other promotional activities associated with encouraging application for, or renewal of, the specialized plates.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 454, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2007.)

5160.
  

(a) A state agency authorized under this article to offer specialized license plates shall prepare and submit an annual accounting report to the department by June 30. The report shall include an accounting of all revenues and expenditures associated with the specialized license plate program.

(b) If a state agency submits a report pursuant to subdivision (a) indicating that the agency violated the expenditure restriction set forth in Section 5159, the department shall immediately cease depositing fees for that agency’s specialized license plate program in the Specialized License Plate Fund established under Section 5157 and, instead, shall deposit those fees that would have otherwise been deposited in that fund in a separate fund created by the Controller, which fund is subject to appropriation by the Legislature. The department shall immediately notify the agency of this course of action. The depositing of funds in the account established pursuant to this subdivision shall continue until the agency demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that the agency is in compliance or will comply with the requirements of Section 5159. If one year from the date that the agency receives the notice described in this subdivision, the agency is still unable to satisfactorily demonstrate to the department that it is in compliance or will comply with Section 5159, the department shall no longer issue or replace those specialized license plates associated with that agency. Those particular specialized license plates that were issued prior to the discontinuation provided by this subdivision may continue to be used and attached to the vehicle for which they were issued and may be renewed, retained, or transferred pursuant to this code.

(c) Upon receiving the reports required under subdivision (a), notwithstanding Section 7550.5 of the Government Code, the department shall prepare and transmit an annual consolidated report to the Legislature containing the revenue and expenditure data.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 130, Sec. 233. Effective January 1, 2008.)

5161.
  

(a) The department, in consultation with the Department of Parks and Recreation, shall design and make available for issuance pursuant to this article special state parks environmental design license plates as described in this section. Notwithstanding Section 5155, the special state parks environmental design license plates shall bear a full-plate graphic design that the department determines, in consultation with the Department of the California Highway Patrol, does not obscure the readability of the license plate depicting a California redwood tree design as an iconic feature of California’s state park system, as approved by the Department of Parks and Recreation. The Department of Parks and Recreation may accept and use donated artwork from California artists for purposes of this requirement. Any person described in Section 5101 may, upon payment of the additional fees set forth in subdivision (b), apply for and be issued a set of special state parks environmental design license plates. The special state parks environmental design license plates may be issued as environmental license plates, as defined in Section 5103.

(b) In addition to the regular fees for an original registration or renewal of registration, the following additional fees shall be paid for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the special state parks environmental design license plates authorized pursuant to this section:

(1) For the original issuance of the plates, fifty dollars ($50).

(2) For a renewal of registration with the plates, forty dollars ($40).

(3) For transfer of the plates to another vehicle, fifteen dollars ($15).

(4) For each substitute replacement plate, thirty-five dollars ($35).

(5) In addition, for the issuance of environmental license plates, as defined in Section 5103, with a full-plate graphic design described in subdivision (a), the additional fees prescribed in Sections 5106 and 5108. The additional fees prescribed in Sections 5106 and 5108 shall be deposited in the Environmental License Plate Fund.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (5) of subdivision (b), and after deducting its administrative costs under this section, the department shall deposit the additional revenue derived from the issuance, renewal, transfer, and substitution of special environmental design license plates in the California State Parks Account, which is hereby created in the Specialized License Plate Fund. Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the money in the account shall be allocated by the Controller to the Department of Parks and Recreation for expenditure for the exclusive trust purposes of preservation and restoration of California state parks.

(d) The Department of Parks and Recreation shall collect and hold applications for the special state parks environmental license plates described in this section. The department shall not be required to make the special state parks environmental license plates available for issuance pursuant to this section until the Department of Parks and Recreation has submitted not less than 7,500 applications for the plates to the department.

(Added by Stats. 2012, Ch. 39, Sec. 113. (SB 1018) Effective June 27, 2012.)

5162.
  

The State Department of Public Health shall apply to the department to sponsor a kidney disease awareness license plate program pursuant to this article.

(Added by Stats. 2014, Ch. 359, Sec. 1. (AB 2450) Effective January 1, 2015.)

5163.
  

(a) The Department of Fish and Wildlife shall apply to the department, pursuant to Section 5156, to sponsor a Salton Sea license plate program. The department shall issue specialized license plates for that program if the Department of Fish and Wildlife complies with the requirements of Section 5156.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, the additional fees prescribed by Section 5157 for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the specialized license plates shall be deposited, after the department deducts its administrative costs, in the Salton Sea Restoration Account, which is hereby created in the Specialized License Plate Fund. The funds in the account shall be used, upon appropriation by the Legislature to the Salton Sea Authority, for restoration of the Salton Sea.

(Added by Stats. 2014, Ch. 353, Sec. 1. (AB 1096) Effective January 1, 2015.)

5168.
  

(a) The fees specified in Section 5157 shall be imposed for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the Pet Lover’s specialized license plates. Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, after deducting its administrative costs, the department shall deposit the revenue derived from the additional fees into the Pet Lover’s Fund, which is hereby established in the Specialized License Plate Fund.

(b) Upon appropriation by the Legislature, the moneys in the Pet Lover’s Fund shall be allocated to the Department of Food and Agriculture. There shall not be an allocation to the Department of Food and Agriculture pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 5157.

(c) The Department of Food and Agriculture shall allocate those grant funds to eligible veterinary facilities that offer low-cost or no-cost animal sterilization services.

(1) In administering the grants, the Department of Food and Agriculture may prioritize both of the following:

(A) Eligible veterinary facilities located in or serving underserved communities or those that can demonstrate financial need.

(B) Eligible veterinary facilities that have previously provided or currently provide low-cost or no-cost animal sterilization services.

(2) For the purposes of this subdivision, “eligible veterinary facilities” mean those facilities that are all of the following:

(A) Registered and in good standing with the Veterinary Medical Board, pursuant to Section 4853 of the Business and Professions Code.

(B) Overseen by a responsible licensee manager licensed and in good standing with the Veterinary Medical Board, pursuant to Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 4800) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.

(C) (i) Operated by a city, county, city and county, an animal care or control agency, or a nonprofit meeting the requirements of Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code that is registered and in good standing with the Secretary of State.

(ii) A city, county, or city and county animal control agency or nonprofit shelter holding a municipal contract that offers spay and neuter services for dogs and cats owned by individual members of the public is required to be current on its yearly rabies reporting requirements to the State Department of Public Health, Veterinary Public Health Section.

(d) Annual administrative costs for the program shall not exceed 25 percent of the funds collected from the issuance of the Pet Lover’s license plates, and may include funds for marketing and other promotional activities associated with encouraging application for, or renewal of, Pet Lover’s license plates and collaboration expenses. The Department of Food and Agriculture may contract with an eligible nonprofit organization to perform the marketing and promotional activities authorized.

(1) The eligible nonprofit organization selected by the Department of Food and Agriculture pursuant to this subdivision shall not use more than 5 percent of the moneys received pursuant to this section for administrative costs.

(2) For the purposes of this subdivision, “eligible nonprofit organization” means a nonprofit entity that is all of the following:

(A) Qualifies for tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code and subdivision (d) of Section 23701 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.

(B) Registered and in good standing with the Secretary of State.

(C) Chaptered and headquartered in this state.

(D) Has demonstrated experience in advertising, marketing, and promoting specialized license plates in existence prior to 2016 pursuant to this article.

(e) The Department of Food and Agriculture shall determine eligibility requirements for the grants, establish the grant application process, and develop program specifics. The Department of Food and Agriculture shall collaborate with an eligible nonprofit organization, as defined in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d), to provide advice and consultation for the purposes of developing and implementing the grant program. The Department of Food and Agriculture shall administer and oversee the grant program.

(Amended by Stats. 2017, Ch. 813, Sec. 2. (SB 673) Effective January 1, 2018.)

5169.
  

(a) The California Cultural and Historical Endowment shall apply to the department to sponsor a license plate program pursuant to this article.

(b) The fees specified in Section 5157 shall be imposed for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of specialized license plates authorized by this section. Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, after deducting its administrative costs, the department shall deposit the revenue derived from the additional fees into the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Fund to fund the grant program described in Section 20092 of the Education Code.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 208, Sec. 9. (AB 2906) Effective January 1, 2017.)

VEHVehicle Code - VEH8.6