Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doom impending for California drivers?

When the calendar turns to July 1, some California vehicle owners have expressed concern about a Judgment Day of sorts spurred by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

At issue is the agency’s delay in mailing out vehicle registration renewals for July and August. Anyone looking to play the blame game needs to look no further than state lawmakers who mandated holding off on sending renewals to see what happens with the state budget.

State lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown are fussing over a fee associated with 0.50 percent of a vehicle’s estimated value.

Since 2009, the vehicle license fee for smaller vehicles had increased from 0.65 percent of a vehicle’s estimated value to 1.15 percent. That additional fee is set to sunset June 30, dropping the cost back to 0.65 percent.

The governor and fellow Democrats have been working to make sure the state can continue to collect the fee. They say the money is needed to help balance the state budget.

Foreseeing a potential doomsday scenario playing out at the DMV, lawmakers waived the state’s mandate to send renewal notices out 60 days ahead of time. The reason: They did not want vehicle owners with July or August renewals to get a statement with the wrong amount on it.

As a result, the DMV reports that affected owners will not receive their renewals until next week.

This is far from the smoothest way to go about doing business, but it does appear that state officials are prepared to handle the potential crisis without the chaos some Californians have feared.

You likely are thinking that all sounds good but “what happens if I get pulled over with expired tags?” Again, the DMV assures that it is all good. This reassurance is found on the agency’s website:
“Law enforcement is aware and will not cite vehicles until the first day of the second month after the vehicle registration expires. For example: A vehicle with a registration expiration date of July 10th would not be cited for delinquent registration prior to Sept. 1, 2011.”

Californians still concerned about tickets, or who want to simplify the renewal process, can go to the DMV website and pay online starting July 1. Be sure to print a receipt and keep it handy for any law enforcement officers who may have missed the state’s notice about the delay.