Are You Charged with Driving without California Vehicle Registration under VC 4000?

california vehicle registration

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

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


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Reason #1 You Were Cited with VC 4000: 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.

You can thank your irresponsible friend or family member for the predicament you are now in!

The exception to this rule is if the officer checked a little box on your traffic citation that says “owner’s responsibility.”

If the officer checked that box, it means you are alleviated of the responsibility to pay for the ticket.

However, it is NOT very often that the citing officer will check this box. Usually, even if the car was last registered to another person, you as the driver will be responsible for showing the court the registration is current.

Reason #2 You Were Cited with VC 4000: You Didn’t Follow Through with the DMV

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.

If you don’t follow through with the DMV, you won’t be off the hook simply because you mailed a check.

Since the officer is unable to verify the reason your registration was expired, you will most likely still 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 Were Cited with VC 4000: 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

A large percentage of my 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, or whoever the vehicle was registered to).

Perhaps you didn’t realize it was your responsibility to ensure the registration was current and also to let the court know.

Consequently, several months (or even several years) later, you discovered your failure to handle this ticket has resulted in a failure to appear in court and a hold on your driver’s license.

You don’t want to pay GC Services because doing so:

  • can result in a failure to appear charge appearing on your criminal background;
  • can result in paying exorbitant, unnecessary fines; and
  • can result in points on your DMV record, causing your insurance rates to rise.

The good news is that you don’t have to pay GC Services in order to get your license back.

You are still entitled to your day in court, as long:

  • you didn’t make a payment to GC Services yet under their amnesty program (it’s ok if you made a partial payment outside of the amnesty program though);
  • you haven’t seen the judge yet;
  • your case is in Los Angeles County (different rules apply in other counties).

Even if your car registration was expired at the time of the citation, if you fix the issue and show proof to the court you corrected the registration after the fact, 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, which is called your arraignment.

With proof of valid current registration, or with proof the vehicle has been sold, you’ll be in a much better situation.

Get Help with Your VC 4000 Charge

My name is Attorney Paul Denni, and I’m a Los Angeles traffic ticket attorney. It usually doesn’t make sense to hire an attorney for VC 4000, unless there are other charges involved or unless you have a failure to appear, as discussed above.

For a free phone consultation, you can reach me by phone at 888-250-8450 or use the contact form below.

I Need Help With My Traffic Ticket

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