Facing a California Vehicle Code violation is not just about criminal charges. Even if a simple ticket or infraction can be the reason a police officer pulls you over in the first place. Once a traffic stop has begun, the police officer can expand the scope of the traffic stop if they suspect other violations.
A traffic stop or even a parking ticket could cause an officer to ask for registration or look up the vehicle's registration. If there is a problem with the registration, it could lead to criminal charges for vehicle registration fraud under Vehicle Code 4463. It can also be a crime to falsify disabled placards and an infraction to falsify carpool stickers.
Vehicle Code 4463 VC
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4000:
“A person shall not drive, move, or leave standing upon a highway, or in an off street public parking facility, any motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole or pipe dolly, or logging dolly, unless it is registered and the appropriate fees have been paid.”
If the driver was not carrying the registration or did not put the sticker on the vehicle, then it may be treated like a “fix-it” ticket and the infraction will be dismissed once the driver gets the vehicle properly registered and shows evidence to the court, subject to a fee.
Vehicle Registration Fraud
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4463, vehicle registration fraud includes any of the following to vehicle registration, license plate, or certificate of ownership:
This includes uttering, publishing, passing, or attempting to pass a false, altered, forged, or counterfeited license plate, registration, certificate, license, or temporary plate. Violation of this law is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine.
Forging Disabled Parking Placards
Drivers may see other people using disabled parking placards when the person does not look to be disabled. However, there are many disabilities that are not obvious to others. Before trying to get your own fake disabled parking sticker, it is important to understand the penalties involved.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4463(b), it is a misdemeanor to use a fraudulent disabled person placard. The penalties can include jail for up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000. This includes:
- Forging, counterfeiting, or falsifying a disabled parking placard,
- Passing or attempting to pass a false or forged placard,
- Acquiring, possessing, or selling a disabled parking placard.
Forging a Clean Air Carpool Sticker
Sitting in traffic in the East Bay can be frustrating when other drivers with only one person in the car get to use the carpool lane just because they have a newer car with an electric engine. Driving a “cleaner” vehicle may produce less pollution but it still clogs up California bridges, highways, and roads.
Certain vehicles that have met certain state requirements qualify for driving in the carpool or HOV lanes in California, even if they only have one driver in the vehicle. This generally includes electric, natural gas, plug-in hybrids, or hydrogen-fueled vehicles.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 4463(e), it is an infraction to fraudulently use a Clean Air Sticker. The penalties can include a fine of up to $250 for a first offense and up to $1,000 for a third offense. This includes:
- Forging, counterfeiting, or falsifying a Clean Air Sticker,
- Passing or attempting to pass a false or forged Clean Air Sticker,
- Acquiring, possessing, or selling a Clean Air Sticker.
Defense Strategies for Fraudulent Registration or License Plates
There are defense strategies to charges of fraudulently using, making, or selling vehicle registrations or license plates. However, this generally requires intent to defraud or damage. If a driver purchased a vehicle with a fraudulent certificate or license plate but did not know the vehicle had fake plates, they should not be found guilty of vehicle registration fraud.
Unfortunately, telling a judge that you did not know the records were fake may not be enough to avoid a conviction. Instead of hoping the judge will just take your word for it, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your East Bay criminal defense attorney will be able to investigate your case, challenge the state's evidence, and work to get the vehicle charges against you dropped so you do not have to waste your time fighting unfounded allegations.
Vehicle Stop Leads to DUI Charges
One of the problems with even the most minor or traffic violations is that it can justify an extended traffic stop where the police can look for other evidence of what they might suspect to be a crime. For example, if the police smelled marijuana coming from one of your passengers, they may use that as justification to make a DUI arrest, even if you were totally sober. Talk to your East Bay DUI defense attorney if you are facing drunk or drugged driving charges.
Defense Lawyer for Vehicle Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a criminal record for California drivers. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local traffic and criminal laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.