DMV Shafts Customers in California

From Senator Dutton’s email alert:

I would like to remind constituents that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will be handling vehicle registration renewals differently this year. Because of legislation passed in May, DMV will extend a 30-day grace period for vehicle renewals occurring between July 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.
It is important to know that billing notices issued by DMV have not been adjusted to reflect the 30-day grace period. Instead, a special insert a has been included with the billing notice that indicates penalties will not be imposed until the 31st day after the expiration date.
Normally, there is NO grace period for vehicle registration renewals, but notices are sent 60 days prior to the renewal date. Penalties under the standard system are calculated based on the number of days the registration is overdue, increasing from a 10% penalty when a payment is one to ten days late to a 60% penalty is the fee is 31 days late.
Some vehicle owners have reported that they have been assessed a 60% penalty on their VLF fee on the first day after the fee was due. In other words, vehicle owners paying their fees online after the due date have not received graduated penalties based on the amount of time the fee is overdue–just the maximum penalty from the first day the fee is overdue.
Although DMV officials say they are working to correct the problem, vehicle owners need to pay attention to when their registration renewal payments are due since those that were due in early July have already begun to pass the 30-day grace period.
DMV is encouraging vehicle owners to use renewal by mail or its internet renewal program to renew vehicle registrations. These alternative renewal methods automatically waive late fees for 30-day grace period, but will assess a penalty of 60% of the VLF fee on the 31st day. DMV will refund any over-payments to vehicle owners who were unaware of the 30-day grace period if they included penalty fees in their mailed payments. However, it may take 3-4 weeks for the refund to be processed.
DMV officials also say law enforcement is aware of the registration renewal grace period and will not cite vehicles until the first day of the second month after the vehicle registration expires. For example: A vehicle with a registration expiration date of July 10th would not be cited for delinquent registration prior to September 1, 2011.

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