Article 9. Display Of Plates, Tabs, And Stickers of California Vehicle Code >> Division 3. >> Chapter 1. >> Article 9.
(a) When two license plates are issued by the department for
use upon a vehicle, they shall be attached to the vehicle for which
they were issued, one in the front and the other in the rear.
(b) When only one license plate is issued for use upon a vehicle,
it shall be attached to the rear thereof, unless the license plate is
issued for use upon a truck tractor, in which case the license plate
shall be displayed in accordance with Section 4850.5.
(a) License plates shall at all times be securely fastened to
the vehicle for which they are issued so as to prevent the plates
from swinging, shall be mounted in a position so as to be clearly
visible, and so that the characters are upright and display from left
to right, and shall be maintained in a condition so as to be clearly
legible. The rear license plate shall be mounted not less than 12
inches nor more than 60 inches from the ground, and the front license
plate shall be mounted not more than 60 inches from the ground,
except as follows:
(1) The rear license plate on a tow truck or repossessor's tow
vehicle may be mounted on the left-hand side of the mast assembly at
the rear of the cab of the vehicle, not less than 12 inches nor more
than 90 inches from the ground.
(2) The rear license plate on a tank vehicle hauling hazardous
waste, as defined in Section 25117 of the Health and Safety Code, or
asphalt material may be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than
90 inches from the ground.
(3) The rear license plate on a truck tractor may be mounted at
the rear of the cab of the vehicle, but not less than 12 inches nor
more than 90 inches from the ground.
(4) The rear license plate of a vehicle designed by the
manufacturer for the collection and transportation of garbage,
rubbish, or refuse that is used regularly for the collection and
transportation of that material by a person or governmental entity
employed to collect, transport, and dispose of garbage, rubbish, or
refuse may be mounted not less than 12 inches nor more than 90 inches
from the ground.
(5) The rear license plate on a two-axle livestock trailer may be
mounted 12 inches or more, but not more than 90 inches, from the
(6) (A) The rear license plate on a dump bed motortruck equipped
with a trailing, load bearing swing axle shall be mounted more than
12 inches, but not more than 107 inches, from the ground.
(B) As used in this section, a trailing, load bearing swing axle
is an axle which can be moved from a raised position to a position
behind the vehicle that allows for the transfer of a portion of the
weight of the vehicle and load to the trailing axle.
(b) A covering shall not be used on license plates except as
(1) The installation of a cover over a lawfully parked vehicle to
protect it from the weather and the elements does not constitute a
violation of this subdivision. A peace officer or other regularly
salaried employee of a public agency designated to enforce laws,
including local ordinances, relating to the parking of vehicles may
temporarily remove so much of the cover as is necessary to inspect
any license plate, tab, or indicia of registration on a vehicle.
(2) The installation of a license plate security cover is not a
violation of this subdivision if the device does not obstruct or
impair the recognition of the license plate information, including,
but not limited to, the issuing state, license plate number, and
registration tabs, and the cover is limited to the area directly over
the top of the registration tabs. No portion of a license plate
security cover shall rest over the license plate number.
(c) A casing, shield, frame, border, product, or other device that
obstructs or impairs the reading or recognition of a license plate
by an electronic device operated by state or local law enforcement,
an electronic device operated in connection with a toll road,
high-occupancy toll lane, toll bridge, or other toll facility, or a
remote emission sensing device, as specified in Sections 44081 and
44081.6 of the Health and Safety Code, shall not be installed on, or
affixed to, a vehicle.
(d) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature that an accommodation
be made to persons with disabilities and to those persons who
regularly transport persons with disabilities, to allow the removal
and relocation of wheelchair lifts and wheelchair carriers without
the necessity of removing and reattaching the vehicle's rear license
plate. Therefore, it is not a violation of this section if the
reading or recognition of a rear license plate is obstructed or
impaired by a wheelchair lift or wheelchair carrier and all of the
following requirements are met:
(A) The owner of the vehicle has been issued a special
identification license plate pursuant to Section 5007, or the person
using the wheelchair that is carried on the vehicle has been issued a
distinguishing placard under Section 22511.55.
(B) (i) The operator of the vehicle displays a decal, designed and
issued by the department, that contains the license plate number
assigned to the vehicle transporting the wheelchair.
(ii) The decal is displayed on the rear window of the vehicle, in
a location determined by the department, in consultation with the
Department of the California Highway Patrol, so as to be clearly
visible to law enforcement.
(2) Notwithstanding any other law, if a decal is displayed
pursuant to this subdivision, the requirements of this code that
require the illumination of the license plate and the license plate
number do not apply.
(3) The department shall adopt regulations governing the
procedures for accepting and approving applications for decals, and
issuing decals, authorized by this subdivision.
(4) This subdivision does not apply to a front license plate.
(a) A person shall not sell a product or device that
obscures, or is intended to obscure, the reading or recognition of a
license plate by visual means, or by an electronic device as
prohibited by subdivision (c) of Section 5201.
(b) A person shall not operate a vehicle with a product or device
that violates subdivision (a).
(c) A person shall not erase the reflective coating of, paint over
the reflective coating of, or alter a license plate to avoid visual
or electronic capture of the license plate or its characters by state
or local law enforcement.
(d) A conviction for a violation of this section is punishable by
a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) per item sold or per
(a) A license plate issued by this state or any other
jurisdiction within or without the United States shall be attached
upon receipt and remain attached during the period of its validity to
the vehicle for which it is issued while being operated within this
state or during the time the vehicle is being held for sale in this
state, or until the time that a vehicle with special or
identification plates is no longer entitled to those plates; and a
person shall not operate, and an owner shall not knowingly permit to
be operated, upon any highway, a vehicle unless the license plate is
so attached. A special permit issued in lieu of plates shall be
attached and displayed on the vehicle for which the permit was issued
during the period of the permit's validity.
(b) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2012.
This chapter does not apply to plates which the department
pursuant to law has ordered to be surrendered, transferred to another
vehicle, or removed.
(a) Except as provided by subdivisions (b) and (c), a tab
shall indicate the year of expiration and a tab shall indicate the
month of expiration. Current month and year tabs shall be attached to
the rear license plate assigned to the vehicle for the last
preceding registration year in which license plates were issued, and,
when so attached, the license plate with the tabs shall, for the
purposes of this code, be deemed to be the license plate, except that
truck tractors, and commercial motor vehicles having a declared
gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more, shall display the
current month and year tabs upon the front license plate assigned to
the truck tractor or commercial motor vehicle. Vehicles that fail to
display current month and year tabs or display expired tabs are in
violation of this section.
(b) The requirement of subdivision (a) that the tabs indicate the
year and the month of expiration does not apply to fleet vehicles
subject to Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 5300) or vehicles
defined in Section 468.
(c) Subdivision (a) does not apply when proper application for
registration has been made pursuant to Section 4602 and the new
indicia of current registration have not been received from the
(d) This section is enforceable against any motor vehicle that is
driven, moved, or left standing upon a highway, or in an offstreet
public parking facility, in the same manner as provided in
subdivision (a) of Section 4000.
The department may make appropriate rules and regulations for
the use and display of stickers or devices issued in lieu of license
plates, and shall publish a summary thereof.
(a) For purposes of implementing Section 21655.9, the
department shall make available for issuance, for a fee determined by
the department to be sufficient to reimburse the department for the
actual costs incurred pursuant to this section, distinctive decals,
labels, and other identifiers that clearly distinguish the following
vehicles from other vehicles:
(1) A vehicle that meets California's super ultra-low emission
vehicle (SULEV) standard for exhaust emissions and the federal
inherently low-emission vehicle (ILEV) evaporative emission standard,
as defined in Part 88 (commencing with Section 88.101-94) of Title
40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(2) A vehicle that was produced during the 2004 model year or
earlier and meets California's ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV)
standard for exhaust emissions and the federal ILEV standard.
(3) A vehicle that meets California's enhanced advanced technology
partial zero-emission vehicle (enhanced AT PZEV) standard or
transitional zero-emission vehicle (TZEV) standard.
(b) The department shall include a summary of the provisions of
this section on each motor vehicle registration renewal notice, or on
a separate insert, if space is available and the summary can be
included without incurring additional printing or postage costs.
(c) The Department of Transportation shall remove individual HOV
lanes, or portions of those lanes, during periods of peak congestion
from the access provisions provided in subdivision (a), following a
finding by the Department of Transportation as follows:
(1) The lane, or portion thereof, exceeds a level of service C, as
discussed in subdivision (b) of Section 65089 of the Government
(2) The operation or projected operation of the vehicles described
in subdivision (a) in these lanes, or portions thereof, will
significantly increase congestion.
(3) The finding shall also demonstrate the infeasibility of
alleviating the congestion by other means, including, but not limited
to, reducing the use of the lane by noneligible vehicles or further
increasing vehicle occupancy.
(d) The State Air Resources Board shall publish and maintain a
listing of all vehicles eligible for participation in the programs
described in this section. The board shall provide that listing to
(e) (1) For purposes of subdivision (a), the Department of the
California Highway Patrol and the department, in consultation with
the Department of Transportation, shall design and specify the
placement of the decal, label, or other identifier on the vehicle.
Each decal, label, or other identifier issued for a vehicle shall
display a unique number, which shall be printed on, or affixed to,
the vehicle registration.
(2) Decals, labels, or other identifiers designed pursuant to this
subdivision for a vehicle described in paragraph (3) of subdivision
(a) shall be distinguishable from the decals, labels, or other
identifiers that are designed for vehicles described in paragraphs
(1) and (2) of subdivision (a).
(f) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), for purposes of
paragraph (3) of subdivision (a), the department shall issue no more
than 85,000 distinctive decals, labels, or other identifiers that
clearly distinguish a vehicle specified in paragraph (3) of
(2) The department may issue a decal, label, or other identifier
for a vehicle that satisfies all of the following conditions:
(A) The vehicle is of a type identified in paragraph (3) of
(B) The owner of the vehicle is the owner of a vehicle for which a
decal, label, or other identifier described in paragraph (1) was
previously issued and that vehicle for which the decal, label, or
other identifier was previously issued is determined by the
department, on the basis of satisfactory proof submitted by the owner
to the department, to be a nonrepairable vehicle or a total loss
(C) The owner of the vehicle applied for a decal, label, or other
identifier pursuant to this paragraph within six months of the date
on which the vehicle for which a decal, label, or other identifier
was previously issued is declared to be a nonrepairable vehicle or a
total loss salvage vehicle.
(g) If the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, serving as the
Bay Area Toll Authority, grants toll-free and reduced-rate passage on
toll bridges under its jurisdiction to a vehicle pursuant to Section
30102.5 of the Streets and Highways Code, it shall also grant the
same toll-free and reduced-rate passage to a vehicle displaying an
identifier issued by the department pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2)
of subdivision (a).
(h) (1) Notwithstanding Section 21655.9, and except as provided in
paragraph (2), a vehicle described in subdivision (a) that displays
a decal, label, or identifier issued pursuant to this section shall
be granted a toll-free or reduced-rate passage in high-occupancy toll
lanes as described in Section 149.7 of the Streets and Highways Code
unless prohibited by federal law.
(2) (A) Paragraph (1) does not apply to the imposition of a toll
imposed for passage on a toll road or toll highway, that is not a
high-occupancy toll lane as described in Section 149.7 of the Streets
and Highways Code.
(B) On or before March 1, 2014, paragraph (1) does not apply to
the imposition of a toll imposed for passage in lanes designated for
tolls pursuant to the federally supported value pricing and transit
development demonstration program operated pursuant to Section 149.9
of the Streets and Highways Code for State Highway Route 10 or 110.
(C) Paragraph (1) does not apply to the imposition of a toll
charged for crossing a state-owned bridge.
(i) If the Director of Transportation determines that federal law
does not authorize the state to allow vehicles that are identified by
distinctive decals, labels, or other identifiers on vehicles
described in subdivision (a) to use highway lanes or highway access
ramps for high-occupancy vehicles regardless of vehicle occupancy,
the Director of Transportation shall submit a notice of that
determination to the Secretary of State.
(j) This section shall become inoperative on January 1, 2019, or
the date the federal authorization pursuant to Section 166 of Title
23 of the United States Code expires, or the date the Secretary of
State receives the notice described in subdivision (i), whichever
occurs first, and, as of January 1, 2019, is repealed, unless a later
enacted statute, that becomes operative on or before January 1,
2019, deletes or extends the dates on which it becomes inoperative
and is repealed.
Vehicles for which weight fees are paid on a partial year
basis shall display a certificate or insignia issued by the
department, which shall state the end of the period for which the
vehicle is licensed.