Code Section Group

Vehicle Code - VEH


  ( Division 16.5 added by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1816. )

CHAPTER 2. Registration of Off-Highway Vehicles; Original and Renewal of Identification; Issuance of Certificates of Ownership [38010 - 38265]

  ( Chapter 2 added by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1816. )

ARTICLE 6. Identification Plate or Device [38160 - 38170]
  ( Article 6 added by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1816. )


The department, upon identifying an off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification, shall issue to the owner a suitable identification plate or device which is capable of being attached to the vehicle in such a manner so as to not endanger the operator or passengers of the vehicle, and which shall identify the vehicle for which it is issued for the period of its validity.

(Added by Stats. 1971, Ch. 1816.)


(a) The department shall determine the size, color, and letters or number of the plate or device issued pursuant to this division and the life of the series of plate or device issued, but in no event less than six years. The design of the plate or device shall have the identification number as the most prominent feature of the device. During the intervening identification periods for which the plate or device is issued, the department shall issue a tab, sticker, or other suitable device to indicate the term for which such plate or device will be valid.

(b) On or before July 1, 2009, the department, in conjunction with the Division of Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation of the Department of Parks and Recreation, shall report to the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, regarding recommendations to improve the identification of off-highway motor vehicles. At a minimum, the report shall examine the benefits and challenges of all of the following:

(1) Using multiple identification stickers for each vehicle.

(2) Using large-print identifying numbers or letters.

(3) Various identifying devices, such as license plates and stickers.

(4) Requiring license plates or other device alternatives for certain off-highway vehicle types.

(5) Including a unique number for special nonresident permits issued under Section 38087.5.

(c) In preparing the report, the department and the Division of Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation shall work with vehicle manufacturers to evaluate feasibility.

(Amended by Stats. 2007, Ch. 541, Sec. 23. Effective January 1, 2008.)


(a) Every off-highway motor vehicle subject to identification shall have displayed upon it the identification number assigned to the vehicle for which it is issued, together with the word “California” or the abbreviation “CAL” and the year number for which it is issued or a suitable device issued by the department for validation purposes, which device shall contain the year for which it is issued.

(b) The identification plate or device shall at all times be securely fastened to the vehicle for which it is issued and shall be mounted or affixed in a position to be clearly visible, and shall be maintained in a condition so as to be clearly legible. No covering shall be used on the identification plate or device.

(c) All identification plates or devices issued on or after January 1, 1996, shall be displayed as follows:

(1) On the left fork leg of a motorcycle, either horizontal or vertical, and shall be visible from the left side of the motorcycle.

(2) On the left quadrant of the metal frame member of sand rails, rail-type buggies, and dune buggies, visible from the rear of the vehicle.

(3) On the left rear quadrant on permanent plastic or metal frame members of all-terrain vehicles, visible to outside inspections.

(4) On the left tunnel on the back quadrant of snowmobiles.

(Amended by Stats. 1994, Ch. 14, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 1995.)

VEHVehicle Code - VEH6.