Vehicle Code 4000a1 VC is the California statute that makes it illegal to drive a vehicle without proof of valid registration. A violation of this code section is an infraction that can lead to a fine. Officers will sometimes write this section as CVC 4000a.
4000a1 VC states that “a person shall not drive, move, or leave standing upon a highway, or in an off-street public parking facility, any motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer…unless it is registered and the appropriate fees have been paid…”.
A violation of this statute is charged as an infraction. This is opposed to a California misdemeanor or a felony. You are punished with a ticket and must pay a fine in the amount of $280 plus court costs.
Note, however, that these tickets are usually correctable “fix-it tickets.” This means that you will be excused of an offense if you properly register your car after a ticket is issued.
The police can charge you with this offense even if you were not driving the car. Even parked cars in an “off-street public parking facility” are subject to these laws.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will explain the following in this article:
- 1. When are registration tags required?
- 2. What are the consequences of a VC 4000a1 ticket?
- 3. Is it just a fix-it ticket?
- 4. What if I was not driving or using the vehicle?
- 5. Are there related offenses?
1. When are registration tags required?
Vehicle Code 4000a1 VC says that you must register your vehicle with the DMV if you:
- drive it,
- move it, or
- park it in an off-street public parking facility.1
An “off-street public parking facility” means either of the following:
- any publicly owned parking facility, or
- any privately owned parking facility that charges no fee for cars to park.2
“Registration” means that you provide evidence that you have paid the registration tax and fees on a motor vehicle. This evidence consists of:
- a metal license plate,
- a validation decal, and
- a registration certificate.
Note that in the case of a parked vehicle that does not show proper registration:
- the authorities cannot tow and impound it,
- unless they try to contact you (the owner) and inform you that it is not registered.3
2. What are the consequences of a VC 4000a1 ticket?
A violation of this statute is charged as an infraction. You receive a ticket and must pay a fine in the amount of $280. Though courts can add penalty assessments that make the net cost of the fine several times greater.
Note, however, that police usually do not charge you with this offense on its own. This means that authorities will charge you with a VC 4000a1 violation typically only after a traffic stop for some other violation.
Example: Jose drives a Hyundai Elantra. The registration tags on the vehicle are outdated. A police officer, parked and monitoring motorists for speeding, sees the tags as Jose drives by but does not stop him for it. Jose was driving under the speed limit.
But the same officer observes Kelly driving 50-mph in a 30-mph speeding zone. He stops her, and upon walking to the driver’s door, notices that her registration tags have expired. He charges Kelly with both:
- a speeding violation, and
- a violation of VC 4000a1.
3. Is it just a fix-it ticket?
A violation of Vehicle Code 4000a1 is most often a correctable “fix-it ticket.”
This means that if the police ticket you for driving an unregistered vehicle, then:
- the court will likely dismiss the charge, provided that,
- you fix the issue and show proof that you registered the car after the ticket.
Note, though, that the court will likely still charge you a $25 dismissal fee.
4. What if I was not driving or using the vehicle?
The police can charge you with a VC 4000a1 offense even if you were not driving the car.
Parked cars in an off-street public parking facility are still subject to these laws.
Note further that you can receive a ticket under this statute if:
- you drive a car with outdated registration tags, and
- are not the true owner of the vehicle.
5. Are there related offenses?
There are three offenses related to driving an unregistered vehicle. These are:
- vehicle registration fraud – VC 4463,
- failure to appear for a traffic ticket – VC 40508, and
- proof of financial responsibility – VC 16028.
5.1. Vehicle registration fraud – VC 4463
Vehicle Code 4463 VC imposes criminal penalties for fraud or forgery involving:
- vehicle registration certificates,
- vehicle registration stickers,
- vehicle license plates, and
- vehicle smog test certificates.
Specifically, 4462 VC prohibits all of the following:
- altering, forging, counterfeiting or falsifying vehicle registration materials,
- displaying or possessing canceled or forged vehicle registration materials, and
- passing any false, altered or counterfeit vehicle registration materials.
5.2. Failure to appear for a traffic ticket – VC 40508
Vehicle Code 40508 VC is the California statute on the failure to appear for a traffic ticket.
After receiving a traffic ticket in California, you are obligated to sign a written promise to appear in court. You promise to appear in court at a certain time and place.
If you willfully fail to appear as promised, you violate VC 40508.
You willfully fail to appear when you are willingly a no-show. It is not a defense if you did not intend to break the law.
It also does not matter whether you are guilty or innocent of the underlying traffic citation. You violate the law just by breaking a promise to:
- appear in court,
- appear to pay bail,
- pay bail in installments,
- pay a fine within the time authorized, or
- comply with any condition of the court.
5.3. Proof of financial responsibility – VC 16028a
Vehicle Code 16028a VC is the California statute that says you must:
- have evidence of financial responsibility of your vehicle, and
- have this evidence when requested to provide it to a police officer.
Proof of “financial responsibility” simply means proof of automobile insurance.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.