Last updateWed, 20 Sep 2017 9am

On The Road

Motorcyclists advised to ride single file


Q: I’m a motorcycle enthusiast and love to ride with a few of my close friends. Is it legal for us to ride side-by-side in one lane?

A: When riding in groups, do not pair up. Riding next to each other gives a person no place to go to avoid a hazard on the road. For safety in groups, the best formation to use is the staggered formation. This keeps ranks close yet maintains an adequate space cushion.

The leader rides in the left portion of the lane while the second rider stays one second behind in the right portion of the lane. A third rider rides in the left portion of the lane two seconds behind the first rider. The fourth rider keeps a two-second distance behind the second rider, and so on. You can see a diagram of the formation in the California Motorcycle handbook online at www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl655/dl665mcycle.pdf. It’s located on page 33 of the PDF copy.


Q: I’m thinking about buying a new car and would like to know beforehand just how much it will cost me to register the various models I’m considering, so I can budget for the new purchase. Is there a way I can calculate this online?

A: Yes, the DMV Web site has a vehicle registration fee calculator that allows current and new residents of California to calculate an estimate of their vehicle registration fees, determine vehicle license fees for tax purposes and calculate fees for registration renewal for new and used vehicle purchases. It is available at https://mv.dmv.ca.gov/FeeCalculatorWeb/index.jsp.


Q: Are all DMV offices able to administer the commercial driving test, or do I have to go to a specific one?

A: Not all DMV offices are equipped to handle the commercial behind-the-wheel driving test. For a list of those that are, visit www.dmv.ca.gov/fo/offices/toc_cdl.htm. Driving test appointments for noncommercial class C and motorcycles are available online at www.dmv.ca.gov, but for all other driving test appointments, call (800) 777-0133.


Q: The car I have to take the behind-the-wheel test in is pretty beat up, but it’s the car my parents gave me, and the one I’ll have to drive when I get my license. Are there certain requirements my car must fulfill for me to use it for my test?

A: The vehicle you use for your driving test must be safe to drive. Before the test, the examiner checks for a number of things, including tires with no bald spots, a windshield that allows a full unobstructed field of vision and driver and front passenger doors that open from both the inside and outside.

For a complete checklist and other advice on passing the behind-the-wheel test, visit www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl22.htm.


Q: What am I supposed to do during a traffic-signal blackout?

A: If a traffic signal is not working, proceed as if the intersection is controlled by a stop sign in all directions. This means that you must make a full stop and proceed when it is safe. Always observe your right-of-way rules. For more information, visit www.dmv.ca.gov or consult page 58 of the 2008 California Driver Handbook at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/dl600.pdf.


Q: A friend of mine got a DUI approximately six years ago. He insists that a recent law makes that DUI stay on his record for 10 years. He said that he called and someone told him that all DUIs become retroactive. Could you clarify this for me?

A: Your friend is correct – his DUI violation will stay in his record for a total of 10 years. The most recent record reporting law was passed by the Legislature and signed into law effective Jan. 1, 2007; as such, the DMV is mandated to enforce it. For complete information on the law, visit the DMV Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov. Look for “New DUI Reportability Requirements.”



Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed George Valverde California Department of Motor Vehicles director in March 2006. Valverde has been in public service for more than 30 years, focusing on operations and budget issues. Prior to his DMV appointment, he served as Undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency (2004-2005) and Deputy Secretary for Fiscal Operations (1995-2003).

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