Vehicle Code 4462 VC is the California statute requiring drivers to show police proof of registration upon request. Anyone who displays false or invalid proof of registration faces misdemeanor charges, including up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But the court can grant misdemeanor (or summary) probation in place of jail.
4462 VC states that “(a) The driver of a motor vehicle shall present the registration or identification card or other evidence of registration of any or all vehicles under his or her immediate control for examination upon demand of any peace officer.
(b) A person shall not display upon a vehicle, nor present to any peace officer, any registration card, identification card, temporary receipt, license plate, temporary license plate, device issued pursuant to Section 4853, or permit not issued for that vehicle or not otherwise lawfully used thereon under this code.”
Below, our California criminal defense attorneys will discuss:
- 1. When do California drivers have to show police their registration?
- 2. What is the penalty for displaying false registration under VC 4462?
- 3. How can a criminal defense attorney help?
- 4. Is the crime deportable?
- 5. Will it go on the driver’s criminal record?
- 6. Can defendants keep their firearms?
1. When do California drivers have to show police their registration?
Motorists must show peace officers current and valid proof of registration whenever they ask for it.1 This typically occurs:
- During a traffic stop after motorists get pulled over for a traffic violation (such as speeding), or
- When police arrive at the scene of an accident
The most common form of registration is a paper slip that the DMV mails to car owners. Owners should keep this proof in the glove compartment so that they – or anyone else who may be operating the car – can easily access it.
Note that drivers should never reach for the glove compartment until police ask to see proof of registration (or insurance). The act of opening the glove compartment may cause some police officers to suspect that the person is retrieving a weapon.
DMVs should notify people when it is time for renewal of registration of vehicles. Drivers are encouraged to renew right away and frequently check to make sure they are carrying the most up-to-date registration.
2. What is the penalty for displaying false registration under VC 4462?
Vehicle Code 4462.5 VC makes it a California misdemeanor for drivers to intentionally show police a false or otherwise invalid proof of registration. Penalties include:
- up to six months of custody in county jail (as opposed to state prison), and/or
- a maximum fine of $1,0002
But defendants may be able to get probation instead of incarceration.
Note that “invalid proof of registration” can take such forms as:
- Registration cards,
- Identification cards,
- Temporary receipts,
- License plates and stickers,
- Temporary license plates,
- Electronic proof of registrations, or
- Valid proofs of registration of other vehicles
3. How can a criminal defense attorney help?
It may be possible to get VC 4462 charges reduced or dismissed by arguing either:
- No criminal intent,
- Valid registration, and/or
- No probable cause
3.1. The defendant did not intend to break the law
A key element of false registration crimes is that the defendant intended to “avoid compliance” with the law.3 Therefore, no crime occurred if the defendant made an honest mistake.
Example: Martha keeps her former car’s registration slip in her current car. After getting pulled over for running a red light violation, Martha accidentally pulls out the former car’s registration slip. The officer then cites her for presenting invalid registration (as well as the red light traffic ticket). But since Martha had no intent to break the law, the charge should be dropped.
3.2. The defendant presented valid evidence of registration
Perhaps the defendant did nothing wrong, and the police were mistaken about the registration being invalid. A tired officer may have read the information wrong. Or a mean-spirited officer may even have lied about the defendant not presenting valid proof of registration. But as long as the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt the registration was invalid, criminal charges should not stand.
3.3. The police lacked probable cause for the traffic stop
Police may not pull over drivers unless they have probable cause they broke a traffic law or committed another crime. If the defense attorneys can show that the police lacked probable cause, they can ask the judge to disregard any evidence found from the illegal stop – such as the proof of registration.4 This may leave the D.A. with too weak a case to prosecute.
4. Is the crime deportable?
No. VC 4462 violations will not cause non-citizens to be removed from the U.S. It is only a misdemeanor that does not qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude.5
5. Will it go on the driver’s criminal record?
Yes. VC 4462 convictions do go on the defendant’s criminal record. However, they can often get the case expunged once the defendant finishes the sentence and the case ends.
6. Can defendants keep their firearms?
Yes. VC 4462 violations do not affect defendants’ gun rights.
- California Vehicle Code section 4462 CVC.
- VC 4462.5.
- See same California code.
- See In re Raymond C., 145 Cal. App. 4th 1320 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. Nov. 20, 2006).
- 8 USC 1227 — Deportable aliens.