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Here’s how to report vehicles with out-of-state plates

Q. I have seen vehicles in town that have had dealer out-of-state license plates for more than a year. Is that OK?

– Stewart Rixson, Yorba Linda

A. Probably not.

California wants its cash, pronto, and within 20 days of moving here owners must register their vehicles with the Golden State. Dealer plates, which allow dealerships to move around otherwise unregistered vehicles, carry no special weight in this regard.

Once called CHEATERS – for Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws – a California Highway Patrol program goes after those with out-of-state plates.

According to the CHP, the most-common reasons this law is violated is because people are not aware of it, they are skipping out on paying California’s fees and taxes (perhaps other states’ registration fees are less costly), or their mode of transportation can’t pass the Golden State’s air-pollution standards.

CHEATERS now has a less-fun name: California Highway Patrol Registration Enforcement and Guidance. But the goal is the same: If you see a possible violator, you can report it, anonymously if you want, and the agency will start off by sending a couple of letters and then enforcement could occur.

Dating back to 2005, the program has collected $26,957,522.95 in fees and penalties from the owners, said Ian Hoey, a CHP officer and spokesman. An average of 1,200 tips pour in each month.

Vehicles that have expired registration tags in California are easier to spot, and easier to track down by the Department of Motor Vehicles, so the CHP does not have a parallel program to report them.

Honk could trot out the CHP program’s URL here, but its length would give you and he a headache. Instead, Google “CHP” and “CHEATERS,” or go the CHP’s website and put “CHEATERS” in the search bar. Either way, you will end up on the page where you can report the potential – well, the CHP might not say it, but Honk will – cheater.

Q. Honk, years ago there used to be placards on top of gas pumps that told you the tax on each gallon of gas and a breakdown of how much went to the feds and how much to the state. Whatever happened to those placards?

– Tony Wolcott, Newport Beach

A. They seem to have vanished, but …

“The requirement for posting tax rates have not changed,” Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which has a division that oversees gas pumps, told Honk in an email.

“However, over the years the law has changed to say that the fuel taxes may be displayed on or near the dispenser,” he said.

“The exact location will vary from station to station; some still post this information on the dispenser, some post it on the front door to the convenience store, others post it somewhere on the fuel island near a payment kiosk.”

To save the fine residents of Honkland some trouble, the Honkmobile visited four gas stations in search of the tax amounts, but none had them displayed.

So Honk got the dope from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration: Per gallon, the federal tax is 18.4 cents, the state takes 50.5 cents, and then there is the sales tax, which can vary by locale.

Honk has reason to believe there are fees on top of that added in, and if he confirms this he will return with those numbers.

Honkin’ fact: When a state senator from Ohio joined an online video meeting this week, his backdrop appeared to place him in a home office. But if he was trying to fool anyone, the New York Times pointed out, viewers had to only notice the seat belt over his chest. When contacted by a Columbus Dispatch reporter, he said he had been indeed driving, safely, and treated the live-streaming as if a phone call.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

Source: Orange County Register

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