A 2023 registration sticker is displayed on a license plate in Orange County, Calif., on Oct. 16, 2023. (Joyce Kuo/The Epoch Times)
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to give California drivers an extra month to update their vehicle registrations before being pulled over by law enforcement for expired plates.
The new law, which takes effect July 1, 2024, and ends Jan. 1, 2030, aims to help communities of color, who are stopped more often for small violations, according to the bill’s supporters.
Assembly Bill 256
, by Assemblywoman Diane Dixon (R-Newport Beach), was signed Oct. 4 and provides a 30-day delay before drivers can be ticketed for out-of-date registrations.
It also prohibits law enforcement from stopping a driver only for an overdue registration before the second month of expiration. The bill does authorize police, however, to ticket drivers for it before the second month of expiration if a car is stopped for any other violation.
Ms. Dixon said late registrations can be the result of difficulties some drivers are having scraping together the cost for renewals.
“As of 2023, the average cost of registering a vehicle in California comes out to a whopping $289,” Ms. Dixon said in a release Oct. 13. “This is a 66-percent increase over the last six years. These rising costs quickly add up for the average Californian family trying to make ends meet.”
The new law is in line with the California Highway Patrol’s policy to not stop and ticket someone during the first month that their registration has expired.
It doesn’t apply to fleet vehicles, which are those owned by a corporation or organization, such as a government agency or rental car business.
According to a legislative analysis, stops for low-level offenses, such as an expired registration, have been criticized as being pretextual stops, or those used by law enforcement as an investigative tool for something unrelated to the violation.
Most of the criticism of pretextual stops has centered on their impact on communities of color.
A 2020 Stanford study
of nearly 100 million traffic stops from around the country between 2017 and 2021 concluded that, on average, black drivers are 20 percent more likely to get pulled over than those who are white. It also found that motorists of color are stopped more often for traffic stops and police searches.
The Western Center of Law and Poverty, a nonprofit law firm representing over 4 million Californians living in poverty, supported the measure.
“The impact of excessive debt, license suspensions, towing, and [Department of Motor Vehicle] registration holds has had a devastating financial impact on low-income communities,” the center said in a statement included in the legislative analysis of the bill. “These collective policies have stripped billions of dollars in resources from our poorest families leading to the loss of their vehicle, their ability to get work, and their ability to meet their basic needs like grocery shopping, taking children to school, or going to medical appointments.”
The center added that they hoped the bill, which passed unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature, would pave the way for further reforms in the fines and fees of violations.