Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH

DIVISION 7. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAWS [16000 - 16560]

  ( Division 7 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

CHAPTER 1. Compulsory Financial Responsibility [16000 - 16078]

  ( Chapter 1 repealed and added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 1409. )

ARTICLE 2. Financial Responsibility [16020 - 16033]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 1974, Ch. 1409. )

16020.
  

(a) All drivers and all owners of a motor vehicle shall at all times be able to establish financial responsibility pursuant to Section 16021, and shall at all times carry in the vehicle evidence of the form of financial responsibility in effect for the vehicle.

(b) “Evidence of financial responsibility” means any of the following:

(1) A form issued by an insurance company or charitable risk pool, as specified by the department pursuant to Section 4000.37.

(2) If the owner is a self-insurer, as provided in Section 16052 or a depositor, as provided in Section 16054.2, the certificate of self-insurance or the assignment of deposit letter issued by the department.

(3) An insurance covering note or binder pursuant to Section 382 or 382.5 of the Insurance Code.

(4) A showing that the vehicle is owned or leased by, or under the direction of, the United States or a public entity, as defined in Section 811.2 of the Government Code.

(c) For purposes of this section, “evidence of financial responsibility” also may be obtained by a law enforcement officer and court personnel from an electronic reporting system when that system becomes available for use by law enforcement officers.

(d) For purposes of this section, “evidence of financial responsibility” also includes any of the following:

(1) The name of the insurance company and the number of an insurance policy or surety bond that was in effect at the time of the accident or at the time that evidence of financial responsibility is required to be provided pursuant to Section 16028, if that information is contained in the vehicle registration records of the department.

(2) The identifying motor carrier of property permit number issued by the Department of the California Highway Patrol to the motor carrier of property as defined in Section 34601, and displayed on the motor vehicle in the manner specified by the Department of the California Highway Patrol.

(3) The identifying number issued to the household goods carrier, passenger stage carrier, or transportation charter party carrier by the Public Utilities Commission and displayed on the motor vehicle in the manner specified by the commission.

(e) Evidence of financial responsibility does not include an identification number in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subdivision (d) if the carrier is currently suspended by the issuing agency for lack or lapse of insurance or other form of financial responsibility.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 288, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 2007.)

16020.1.
  

(a) On and after January 1, 2020, Section 4000.37 does not apply to vehicle owners with a residence address in the County of Los Angeles at the time of registration renewal.

(b) On and after January 1, 2020, subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 16028 do not apply to a person who drives a motor vehicle upon a highway in the County of Los Angeles.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 451, Sec. 32. (SB 491) Effective January 1, 2016.)

16020.2.
  

(a) On and after January 1, 2020, Section 4000.37 does not apply to vehicle owners with a residence address in the City and County of San Francisco at the time of registration renewal.

(b) On and after January 1, 2020, subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 16028 do not apply to a person who drives a motor vehicle upon a highway in the City and County of San Francisco.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 451, Sec. 33. (SB 491) Effective January 1, 2016.)

16020.3.
  

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any employer that owns a vanpool vehicle, as described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 17149 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, shall maintain evidence of financial responsibility with respect to that vehicle in the same form and amount as described in Section 5391.2 of the Public Utilities Code.

(Added by Stats. 1994, Ch. 622, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 1995.)

16021.
  

Financial responsibility of the driver or owner is established if the driver or owner of the vehicle involved in an accident described in Section 16000 is:

(a) A self-insurer under the provisions of this division.

(b) An insured or obligee under a form of insurance or bond that complies with the requirements of this division and that covers the driver for the vehicle involved in the accident.

(c) The United States of America, this state, any municipality or subdivision thereof, or the lawful agent thereof.

(d) A depositor in compliance with subdivision (a) of Section 16054.2.

(e) An obligee under a policy issued by a charitable risk pool that complies with subdivision (b) of Section 16054.2.

(f) In compliance with the requirements authorized by the department by any other manner which effectuates the purposes of this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 594, Sec. 41. Effective January 1, 2004.)

16025.
  

(a) Every driver involved in the accident shall, unless rendered incapable, exchange with any other driver or property owner involved in the accident and present at the scene, all of the following information:

(1) Driver’s name and current residence address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, and current residence address of registered owner.

(2) Evidence of financial responsibility, as specified in Section 16020. If the financial responsibility of a person is a form of insurance, then that person shall supply the name and address of the insurance company and the number of the insurance policy.

(b) Any person failing to comply with all of the requirements of this section is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250).

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 880, Sec. 10. Effective January 1, 2000.)

16027.
  

(a) Whenever proof of financial responsibility has been established under subdivision (a) of Section 16054.2 and a period of four years has elapsed following the effective date of the suspension, the cash deposit, or any balance thereof remaining, shall be refunded to the person entitled thereto, if the director is satisfied that there are no outstanding or pending claims against the deposit.

(b) If the deposit, or any balance thereof, is refundable under this section but remains unclaimed by the depositor or any other person entitled thereto for a period of six years from the effective date of the suspension, the unclaimed deposit shall be transferred to the Motor Vehicle Account in the State Transportation Fund.

(Amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 619, Sec. 1.)

16028.
  

(a) Upon the demand of a peace officer pursuant to subdivision (b) or upon the demand of a peace officer or traffic collision investigator pursuant to subdivision (c), every person who drives a motor vehicle upon a highway shall provide evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle that is in effect at the time the demand is made. The evidence of financial responsibility may be provided using a mobile electronic device. However, a peace officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether the vehicle is being driven in violation of this subdivision.

(b) If a notice to appear is issued for any alleged violation of this code, except a violation specified in Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 22500) of Division 11 or any local ordinance adopted pursuant to that chapter, the cited driver shall furnish written evidence of financial responsibility or may provide electronic verification of evidence of financial responsibility using a mobile electronic device upon request of the peace officer issuing the citation. The peace officer shall request and write the driver’s evidence of financial responsibility on the notice to appear, except when the peace officer is unable to write the driver’s evidence of financial responsibility on the notice to appear due to an emergency that requires his or her presence elsewhere. If the cited driver fails to provide evidence of financial responsibility at the time the notice to appear is issued, the peace officer may issue the driver a notice to appear for violation of subdivision (a). The notice to appear for violation of subdivision (a) shall be written on the same citation form as the original violation.

(c) If a peace officer, or a regularly employed and salaried employee of a city or county who has been trained as a traffic collision investigator, is summoned to the scene of an accident described in Section 16000, the driver of a motor vehicle that is in any manner involved in the accident shall furnish written evidence of financial responsibility or may provide electronic verification of evidence of financial responsibility using a mobile electronic device upon the request of the peace officer or traffic collision investigator. If the driver fails to provide evidence of financial responsibility when requested, the peace officer may issue the driver a notice to appear for violation of this subdivision. A traffic collision investigator may cause a notice to appear to be issued for a violation of this subdivision, upon review of that citation by a peace officer.

(d) (1) If, at the time a notice to appear for a violation of subdivision (a) is issued, the person is driving a motor vehicle owned or leased by the driver’s employer, and the vehicle is being driven with the permission of the employer, this section shall apply to the employer rather than the driver. In that case, a notice to appear shall be issued to the employer rather than the driver, and the driver may sign the notice on behalf of the employer.

(2) The driver shall notify the employer of the receipt of the notice issued pursuant to paragraph (1) not later than five days after receipt.

(e) A person issued a notice to appear for a violation of subdivision (a) may personally appear before the clerk of the court, as designated in the notice to appear, and provide written evidence of financial responsibility in a form consistent with Section 16020, showing that the driver was in compliance with that section at the time the notice to appear for violating subdivision (a) was issued. In lieu of the personal appearance, the person may submit by mail to the court written evidence of having had financial responsibility at the time the notice to appear was issued. Upon receipt by the clerk of that written evidence of financial responsibility in a form consistent with Section 16020, further proceedings on the notice to appear for the violation of subdivision (a) shall be dismissed.

(f) For the purposes of this section, “mobile electronic device” means a portable computing and communication device that has a display screen with touch input or a miniature keyboard.

(g) For the purposes of this section, when a person provides evidence of financial responsibility using a mobile electronic device to a peace officer, the peace officer shall only view the evidence of financial responsibility and is prohibited from viewing any other content on the mobile electronic device.

(h) If a person presents a mobile electronic device pursuant to this section, that person assumes all liability for any damage to the mobile electronic device.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 76, Sec. 195. (AB 383) Effective January 1, 2014.)

16029.
  

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 16028 is an infraction and shall be punished as follows:

(a) Upon a first conviction, by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and not more than two hundred dollars ($200), plus penalty assessments.

(b) Upon a subsequent conviction, occurring within three years of a prior conviction, by a fine of not less than two hundred dollars ($200) and not more than five hundred dollars ($500), plus penalty assessments.

(c) (1) At the discretion of the court, for good cause, and in addition to the penalties specified in subdivisions (a) and (b), the court may order the impoundment of the vehicle for which the owner could not produce evidence of financial responsibility in violation of subdivision (a) of Section 16028.

(2) A vehicle impounded pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be released to the legal owner of the vehicle or the legal owner’s agent if all of the following conditions are met:

(A) The legal owner is a motor vehicle dealer, bank, credit union, acceptance corporation, or other licensed financial institution legally operating in this state.

(B) The legal owner or the legal owner’s agent pays all towing and storage fees related to the seizure of the vehicle.

(C) The legal owner or the legal owner’s agent presents foreclosure documents or an affidavit of repossession for the vehicle.

(3) (A) A legal owner or the legal owner’s agent that obtains release of the vehicle pursuant to paragraph (2) shall not release the vehicle to the registered owner of the vehicle or any agents of the registered owner, unless the registered owner is a rental car agency, except upon presentation of evidence of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16020, for the vehicle. The legal owner or the legal owner’s agent shall make every reasonable effort to ensure that the evidence of financial responsibility that is presented is valid.

(B) Prior to relinquishing the vehicle, the legal owner may require the registered owner to pay all towing and storage charges related to impoundment and any administrative charges authorized under Section 22850.5 that were incurred by the legal owner in connection with obtaining custody of the vehicle.

(4) A vehicle impounded under paragraph (1) shall be released to a rental car agency if the agency is either the legal owner or the registered owner of the vehicle and the agency pays all towing and storage fees related to the seizure of the vehicle.

(5) A vehicle impounded under paragraph (1) shall be released to the registered owner of the vehicle only upon presentation of evidence of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16020, for that vehicle, and evidence that all towing and storage fees related to the seizure of the vehicle are paid.

This paragraph does not apply to a person, entity, or agency who is entitled to release of a vehicle under paragraph (2) or (4) and is either:

(A) The registered and the legal owner and is described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2).

(B) The registered owner or legal owner and is described in paragraph (4).

(d) It is the intent of the Legislature that fines collected pursuant to this section be used to reduce the number of uninsured drivers and not be used to generate revenue for general purposes.

(e) (1) Except as provided in this subdivision, the court shall impose a fine that is greater than the minimum fine specified in subdivision (a) or (b), and may not reduce that fine to the minimum specified fine authorized under those provisions, unless the defendant has presented the court with evidence of financial responsibility, as defined in Section 16020, for the vehicle. In no event may the court impose a fine that is less than the minimum specified in subdivision (a) or (b), or impose a fine that exceeds the maximum specified fine authorized under those subdivisions. In addition to the fine authorized under subdivision (a) or (b), the court may issue an order directing the defendant to maintain insurance coverage satisfying the financial responsibility laws for at least one year from the date of the order.

(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the imposition of the fine required under subdivision (a) or (b) is mandatory upon conviction of a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 16028 and may not be waived, suspended, or reduced below the minimum fines, unless the court in its discretion reduces or waives the fine based on the defendant’s ability to pay. The court may direct that the fine and penalty assessments be paid within a limited time or in installments on specified dates. The Legislature hereby declares that it is in the interest of justice that the minimum fines set forth in subdivisions (a) and (b) for these offenses be enforced by the court, as provided in this subdivision.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 880, Sec. 12. Effective January 1, 2000.)

16030.
  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), any person who knowingly provides false evidence of financial responsibility (1) when requested by a peace officer pursuant to Section 16028 or (2) to the clerk of the court as permitted by subdivision (e) of Section 16028, including an expired or canceled insurance policy, bond, certificate of self-insurance, or assignment of deposit letter, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding 30 days, or by both that fine and imprisonment. Upon receipt of the court’s abstract of conviction, the department shall suspend the driving privilege, effective upon the date of conviction, for a period of one year. The court shall impose an interim suspension of the person’s driving privileges pursuant to Section 13550, and shall notify the driver of the suspension pursuant to Section 13106, and all driver’s licenses in the possession of the driver shall be surrendered to the court pursuant to Section 13550. Any driver’s license surrendered to the court pursuant to this section shall be transmitted by the court, together with the required report of the conviction, to the department within 10 days of the conviction. The suspension may not be terminated until one year has elapsed from the date of the suspension and until the person files proof of financial responsibility, as provided in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 16430) except that the suspension shall be reinstated if the person fails to maintain proof of financial responsibility for three years.

(b) However, in lieu of suspending a person’s driving privileges pursuant to subdivision (a), the court shall restrict the person’s driving privileges to driving that is required in the person’s course of employment, if driving of a motor vehicle is necessary in order to perform the duties of the person’s primary employment. The restriction shall remain in effect for the period of suspension otherwise required by subdivision (a). The court shall provide for endorsement of the restriction on the person’s driver’s license, and violation of the restriction constitutes a violation of Section 14603 and grounds for suspension or revocation of the license under Section 13360.

(c) This section does not apply to a driver who is driving a motor vehicle owned or leased by the employer of the driver and driven in the course of the driver’s employment with the permission of the employer.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 880, Sec. 13. Effective January 1, 2000.)

16033.
  

No public entity or employee, agent, or any person or organization authorized under Section 4610 to endorse receipts or validate registration cards or potential registration cards, is liable for any loss, detriment, or injury resulting, directly or indirectly, from any of the following:

(a) Failure to request evidence of financial responsibility.

(b) Failure to notify a vehicle owner that an insurance policy has been terminated.

(c) The discretionary failure to cancel, suspend, or revoke a vehicle registration when an insurance policy has been terminated.

(d) Inaccurately recording that evidence under Section 16028 or as a result of the driver producing false or inaccurate financial responsibility information.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 880, Sec. 14. Effective January 1, 2000.)

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