On The Road

How to get a refund on registration fees


Q: I’ve decided not to operate my vehicle in the new registration year, but I’ve already paid my registration renewal fees. Can I get a refund?

A: If you decide before the new registration year that the vehicle will not be operated and you’ve already paid your registration renewal fees, you can get a refund.

 Here’s what you will need to do: Return the registration card and unused sticker or submit a Statement of Facts indicating what happened to the registration card and sticker; submit a completed Certificate of Non-Operation/Planned Non-Operation (REG 102); and submit an Application for Refund completed in full.

To fill out and download these forms online, visit www.dmv.ca.gov and click “Forms.”

The Planned Non-Operation (PNO) fee will be subtracted from the refund amount by the DMV.

This procedure does not apply to boats. Boat renewal fees must be paid whether or not the boat is being operated.

Q: I know the DMV has a driver handbook, but is there a handbook for senior drivers I can give to my aging parents?

A: Yes. The DMV has a link to a Senior Guide for Safe Driving, which you can view online or printed to give to your parents.

The guide is not just for seniors; it was developed for anyone who may have driving concerns for themselves, a relative or an acquaintance. This useful guide contains information on physical and mental changes that may affect safe driving and practical strategies for recognizing, understanding, adapting to and planning for such changes.

To view the guide, visit www.dmv.ca.gov and click “Senior Driving Information.”

Q: I made an appointment to visit the DMV over the phone, but I can no longer make it to the appointment as scheduled. Can I cancel or reschedule my appointment online?

A: Yes. Use the View/Cancel option on the Welcome or Confirmation page of the Online Appointment System. Find it by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov, click the “Online Services” tab, then “Appointments.” Don’t forget to reschedule while you’re online.

Q: My license plates are due to be renewed next month, but I never received my registration renewal form in the mail. Is there anything I can do?

A: If you have lost or did not receive a Vehicle Registration Renewal Notice, you can calculate registration fees by visiting www.dmv.ca.gov and clicking “Vehicle Registration,” then “Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator.” Select the tool for registration renewal, which requires the license plate number, the last five digits of the vehicle identification number and your county and zip code.

You may also call (800) 777-0133 to determine which fees are due, which documents are required and payment options. To be eligible to renew registration online, you must have a renewal notice containing a Registration Identification Number.

Q: Is everyone eligible to get special-interest license plates?

A: Anyone who has a currently registered California auto, truck, trailer or motorcycle may order these license plates. Special Interest License Plates have a unique graphic design depicting an image relative to the organization’s interest, and they require extra fees that are used to support programs pertinent to each organization’s interest. They are available with configurations of numbers, letters or both, which have been personally chosen by the applicant (personalized) or are standard-issue configurations (sequential). Motorcycle plates are not yet available for all special-interest plate programs.

Environmental License Plates are the standard California plates, which do not have graphics, and are only available with personalized configurations. The fees are used to support environmental programs.

To view the various options for special-interest license plates, visit www.dmv.ca.gov, click “More Online Services,” then “Order Special Interest and Personalized Plates.”

Q: Our son is in the military and stationed in Mississippi. We loaned him a vehicle that we own and is registered in our names – because we want it back in a couple of years – but he insures it in his name, in Mississippi. What do we need to do for registration? Since it is on loan in Mississippi, we will not be able to have a smog certificate done this upcoming year to continue with the California registration.

A: An exemption is available for the smog check in your son’s circumstances. The exemption can be obtained by completing the vehicle description area, Section 2, and signing our Statement of Facts Form (Reg 256), which can be found at www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/reg/reg256.pdf. The form should be included with the application for renewal mailing. If you have any questions, call our Customer Communications Section at (916) 657-6560.

Q: Is it illegal to carry an unopened container of alcohol in a vehicle?

A: It is not against the law to carry containers of liquor, beer or wine inside the vehicle, as long as they are full, sealed and unopened. However, it is against the law to drink any amount of alcohol in any vehicle, whether you are the driver or a passenger. If you must transport an open container, it must be in the trunk or in a place where passengers don’t sit. It should be noted that keeping an opened alcoholic drink in the glove compartment is also against the law.

Q: I work in a downtown and always see people making left turns on a red light on one-way streets. Is this legal?

A: Yes, but the move is only permitted if you are turning left into a left-moving one-way street and if there is no sign to prohibit the turn. Always signal and stop for a red traffic light at the limit line or corner, and be sure to yield to pedestrians, bicyclists or other vehicles moving on their green light.

Q: My 15-year-old grandson was browsing your Web site and found the California Teens Treasure Hunt. What is this exactly?

A: The California Teens Treasure Hunt, located on the DMV Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov/teenweb/teen_hunt.html, is a wonderful tool to educate teens on driver safety and encourage them to be the best drivers they can be. This interactive page takes teens on a journey to find the “treasure.” Teens advance to the next level and increase their chances of finding the treasure by answering DMV-related questions correctly. Please encourage your grandson to read through the helpful information on the California Teens Treasure Hunt, as it covers a wider range of information teenagers need to ensure they become safe and informed California drivers.

Q: How do I comment on the quality of customer service I received over the phone or in person from the DMV?

A: I hope you received excellent service and want to write a glowing review of your experience. Whatever type of service you encountered, you can visit the DMV Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/survey/survey_top.htm to fill out online comment forms concerning field office or telephone service.

We would like to make your DMV experience as pleasant as possible and appreciate any comments or ideas you may have to help improve our service.

Q: I’m doing a report on the California Department of Motor Vehicles for a class I’m taking. Can you help me find some interesting historical facts about the DMV?

A: This sounds like my kind of report. Did you know California first started requiring driver licenses Jan 1, 1914, or that the DMV first introduced appointments to expedite driving-test service in 1982? Seems like a long time to start offering appointments, doesn’t it?

For more interesting milestones, major events affecting drivers and even a short write-up encompassing more than 100 years of DMV history, take a look at www.dmv.ca.gov/about/profile/historymenu.htm.

Q: Can I make a right turn on a red light from a center lane if the lane is marked a turning lane?

A: If the center lane is marked a turning lane, it is legal to make a right turn on a red light. If you do, make sure to stay in your lane. Just like making a right turn on red from the right lane, you must come to a complete stop at the light and yield to pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles close enough to be a hazard before you proceed. Most importantly, make the right turn only when it is safe.

For more information on the rules of the road, see the California Driver Handbook at www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/pgs16thru17.htm.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed George Valverde California Department of Motor Vehicles director in 2006. Valverde has been in public service for more than 30 years. Prior to his DMV appointment, he served as undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and deputy secretary for fiscal operations.

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