About California Vehicle Registration and VC 4000

California Vehicle Registration is required by California Vehicle Code section 4000. Under the law, your car must be registered if you plan to drive it, move it, or park it in a public place.

A large percentage of our clients deal with a VC 4000 traffic ticket in Los Angeles County in collections with GC Services.

The reason these types of offenses often end up in collections is because intuitively, it seems the owner of the vehicle should be responsible to pay for these types of tickets (or your employer, as the case may be).

As you’ll learn below, in most cases you’ll be held responsible even if the car isn’t registered in your name.

There are several common reasons you may have failed to comply with VC 4000.

Reason #1: You Borrowed a Car and Were Unaware the Owner’s Registration Was Expired

Perhaps you ended up with a traffic ticket for violation of VC 4000 because you were driving a friend or family member’s vehicle, and you were unaware the registration was expired.

You may think the person whose vehicle you were driving should be the one responsible to pay this traffic ticket, but unfortunately that’s not the way the law works. As the driver you will be responsible to pay the ticket even if you are not the registered owner of the vehicle (THANKS MOM!!!).

The exception to this rule is if the officer checked a little box on your traffic citation that says “owner’s responsibility.” This is often NOT the case however, meaning that even if registration is in another’s name, if you were driving the vehicle you’ll be held responsible.

Reason #2: The DMV Screwed Up

Even if you did all you could to renew your registration, such as pay your fees owed to the DMV in a timely manner, sometimes the DMV simply screws up and fails to renew your registration and issue your new card to you. Since the officer is unable to verify THE REASON your registration was expired, you will unfortunately receive a citation under VC 4000.

This is why you can’t simply pay your registration and then forget about it. Make sure you always have proof printed out for the officer to see, or otherwise available on your cell phone.

Reason #3: You Thought You Were Driving with Valid Out of State Registration

If you are in California for school or temporary employment and you haven’t otherwise established permanent residency in California, you may not be subject to California Vehicle Registration laws. You can read more about whether out of state registration is ok in California here.

What to Do if You Receive a Traffic Ticket Under VC 4000 with a Failure to Appear

If you didn’t realize it was your responsibility to fix this issue, and have only recently discovered your failure to handle this ticket has resulted in a failure to appear in court and a hold on your driver’s license, the good news is that you don’t have to pay the GC Services collection agency.

You are still entitled to your day in court, as long as you haven’t paid the collections agency yet. Even if your car registration was expired at the time of the citation, if you fix the issue and show proof to the court, the court will usually dismiss this charge for a $25 dismissal fee.

When you were additionally charged with a failure to appear, a hold will be placed on your driver’s license, which can turn into a driver’s license suspension.

This negative snowball can be reversed by handling your traffic ticket in court where your case belongs. The hold will be cleared from your driver’s license upon the first court hearing, and with proof of valid current registration you’ll be in a much better situation.

My name is Attorney Paul Denni, and I’m a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney. For a free phone consultation, you can reach me by phone at 888-250-8450 or use the contact form below.


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