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Truck owners pay weight fee for vehicle’s design, not use

Q. I own a 2008 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD diesel with 56,000 miles. It is a secondary vehicle as evidenced by the low mileage. I do not use it for work or for hauling, with the exception of our fifth-wheel trailer, which is sporadic. Because I do not use the pickup for commercial purposes, why am I paying a $200 weight fee every year?

– Steve Lewis, Yorba Linda

A. You are paying that fee for what your truck is, Steve, as opposed to what it is used for.

“A vehicle designed primarily for the transportation of property is considered a commercial vehicle regardless of how the vehicle is used,” Nicholas Filipas, a Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman, told Honk in an email. “Pickup trucks fall under this category and are charged weight fees based on its empty weight.”

Trying to save you some cash, Steve, Honk asked about any exemptions.

“For (at least some) pickup trucks, the addition of a permanently attached camper shell allows it to be registered with regular/non-commercial plates and be exempted from payment of weight fees,” Filipas said. “Commercial vehicles with disabled-veteran and disabled-person license plates are also exempt from weight fees.”

If you want to try and win an exemption, fill out and submit the REG 256 form.

Q. How can a vehicle continue to be driven with only dealership license plates? These paper plates are not the new, temporary ones with numbers and letters, but those with only the dealership name. Is this something the public can report to the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles, and if so, how do we go about doing that?

– Mike and Carole Dubbs, Laguna Niguel

A. One of Honk’s favorite new laws, because the solution was so simple and seems to help a lot, took effect on Jan. 1, 2019: Now, virtually all vehicles have to carry temporary or permanent license plates.

This solves a lot of stuff, such as nabbing criminals on the loose or red-light runners at intersections with cameras or those trying to roll along on tollways without paying, as well as those putting off paying for a registration tag.

“It’s solved a huge problem,” said Rafael Reynoso, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in San Juan Capistrano. “They (dealership plates) stand out like a sore thumb. In south county, it’s very rare to see them.”

Dealers now must print out and put the official, temporary paper plates on the vehicle if it doesn’t have any permanent ones.

But once that car, truck or motorcycle hits a public road, it is the owner who can get in trouble sans proper plates.

Whether the violator gets a warning, a fix-it ticket or a full-blown ticket depends on the decision of the officer, who may consider the motorist’s tale.

Unless there are other concerns about a driver or a vehicle, probably no need to worry about it when you see a license-plate frame sporting those dealership plates – only a matter or time until the motorist gets pulled over.

For example, if a patrolling CHP officer isn’t handling another task, such as pursuing a more troublesome violator or a criminal, someone without valid license plates typically would get pulled over, Reynoso said.

Honkin’ fact: Recent Academy Award nominees in the more prestigious categories were offered gift bags valued at more than $200,000. They included small hammers, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, that can be used to break a car window if a dog is suffering inside from the heat, the group said on its blog. An accompanying keychain reads: “The Car Is Insured – the Dog Is Irreplaceable.” True, but Honk would still try the cops first.

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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