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California Drivers Face Fine Confusion After DMV Notice Delays

SACRAMENTO (CBS 5) – Budget delays in the California legislature this summer kept the state from sending out the Department of Motor Vehicles registration renewal notices on time, leaving many Californians confused about the potential for big fines.

“It was due the same day I got it,” said driver Claire Johnson.

The DMV has promised that drivers will have extra time to pay as a result of the delay.

“What we want customers to know is — you don’t have to panic,” said Jamie Garza of the California DMV. “You will have 30 days from the due date to pay your renewal without any penalties.”

But now some customers are upset about what happens at the end of 30 days. On the 31st day you might think you only have to pay a one-day fine. Instead, you have to pay a 31 day fine, which is a huge penalty – 60 percent of your bill.

The DMV mailed a special notice explaining the 30 day grace period, but some were still left confused.

The DMV spokesman that we asked about the late fee said he couldn’t go on camera Tuesday, but believes the special order is clear. He pointed out there are detailed instructions on the DMV web site as well as the bill, showing just how much the fine will be depending on what day you pay it.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Jacob

    Oh come on, it isn’t that hard. These folks claiming panic are full of it. Your car registration is due the same time every year. Once you get the notice, simply go to the website and renew online in 10 minutes. How hard can it be. Any Officer checking your plates because your tag is not current will run the plate and see the car is actively registered. If they actually stop you, they are aware of the DMV issue this year. God, this stuff drives me crazy hearing “oh, I had not idea.”

    • Siege

      Well I spent all day yesterday trying to pay online and the server was down. Two emails to support and no response. I was able to pay today but I don’t have much confidence in the DMV.

  • Old_Boy_Ntwk

    You are right, Jacob, it’s not that hard. We just re-registered a car on the Internet in a few minutes. However, the part in the story about the size of the penalties is correct. The government is always complaining about the interest rates credit card companies get, but the size penalties for late registration make credit card companies look good.

    When you add the cost of a smog test and any possible repairs the test generates to the cost of the registration fees and the taxes included you get to a number that is a problem for some folks – smacking on a huge late fee just makes it worse. Truth is a lot of it is unnecessary – not used for anything related to vehicles or roads, just more back-door taxes.

    • P Jackson

      To avoid any late penalties, you can go online and pay your registration fees without having smog certificate, the DMV will then mail you an incomplete registration form. When you have smog test done the DMV will then mail you your new registration form and sticker.

      • Steven Goodman

        I did that in June. It has been 8 weeks and my registration form and sticker haven’t arrived yet.

  • Gary Pedersen

    I have heard of this problem , but not exoerienced it myself, I do usually get a notice 2 months in advance.

  • Cindy

    Yup, My registration due date said “July 2, 2011” BUT the postmarked date on the envelope was “July 5, 2011”. I received my bill on July 10, 2011″ ALREADY PAST DUE DATE … I tried to pay online on August 1 ( not YET 30 days from my original due date of 7/2/ 2011 and it said that I have to pay the highest penalty of $386 instead of the original fee of $189. I had to go in person to straighten everything out because online or on the phone the automated system does not know how to negotiate hahahha… so best advice is to make an appt with DMV and go on person, pay and get the sticker RIGHT AWAY!!!

  • Rion

    I usually get my notice in May. I realized sometime at the end of June that it never came. So I went online, saw I needed a smog check, and how much my renewal was. Seeing this, I went and got my smog check before I even received the noticed.

    So I can kinda see both sides: “It’s not that hard” vs “I had no idea”. Cause it’s not something you really wait for or look forward to, and it’s not as serious as taxes, so it’s easy to forget. But at the same time, if you’re smart and responsible, you’ll take inititive and do what you need to do, knowing it’s an annual thing.

  • Mr_Merciless

    As stated above. Let’s say you need a smog test. Well , at the very least go online and pay the reg fee then get it smogged a few days later. Bam! Your tags will magically appear in the mail. Stupid people should not breed!

  • Donald Teixeira

    Another Government Rip Off…. Fines are becoming the NEW TAX!!!!!!!!!

  • The North Node

    mercury RX goes direct on 8/26 3:03 pm PST—–most virgos, and geminis will be feeling better!

  • John

    I never receives the DMV renewal for 2 of my vehicles but the DMV said they send 3 notices which is a BS and I still have to paid about $100 penalty for each car. There is no arrest for DMV fraud but happened to us the whole army squad will waiting front of the home with shotguns!

  • C. Wyatt Hertz

    I do not understand why we, the people are being held responsible for government inefficency.

    • Rachel Alexandre

      amen! It took them two months to send me tags!

  • Rachel Alexandre

    However, even though there is 30 days from the date it is due people are receiving the notices in the mail with two days of the 30 days left to pay!

  • Iko Iko

    It’s actually WORSE than the author explained! My wife went to get new plates on one of our vehicles a couple months ago. The DMV gave her the plates and a current set of stickers, due to expire in 2 months! She tried to simply pay the registration fee for the next year, but the DMV said they had not figured out what to charge yet so she could NOT pay the registrations fee. She got another in-person appointment 4 weeks later, now 1 month from the expiration, and again the DMV in-person told her she still could NOT get the registration paid for the next year. She got another in-person appointment the week prior to the expiration of her new plates and again the DMV refused to let her pay the registration. Then slightly OVER 2 weeks AFTER the registration expired she finally got a DMV notice in the mail to pay the next years registration. She was required to pay the LATE FEE in-spite of the fact that the post-mark on the DMV notice envelope was almost 2 weeks AFTER the expiration date! Oh, and we did get the vehicle smogged, but we still have NOT gotten the sticker!

  • J Wu

    I received a notice of delinqient renewal for the registration on Aug 19 and due date was July 2. The post marked was Aug 17 and received Aug 20. I did not received any renew notice before.

  • itseasyservices
  • ConsumerWatch: Some Cops Still Unaware Of DMV Registration Grace Period « CBS San Francisco

    […] = {"templates":{"twitter":"{{title}} {{url}}"}};}SACRAMENTO (CBS 5) – In July, a legislative deal prevented the Department of Motor Vehicles from sending out registration renewal no…on time. Because of this, the DMV gave all drivers a 30-day extension to pay and a 60-day grace […]

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