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New law changes process for car dealerships

Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 21:40:46-05

It’s been a little over a month since California rolled out its new law for car dealers, ensuring all newly purchased cars drive off the lots with temporary license plates.

For car dealerships like Santa Maria Nissan Mazda, switching over to issuing the new state-mandated temporary license plates has been pretty simple.

“The only thing we had to do is get the tags themselves which are made out of a plastic, but it’s been working well. It’s been an easy transition,” said Sales Manager Maurice Lafuente.

The new tags work just like a real license plate, immediately registering the car and its owner with the DMV.

“The tag itself is just something for the State of California to help with toll roads, theft, car registration. It really doesn’t affect anyone buying a brand new car and it is a pretty neat thing,” Lafuente explained.

But for some used car dealerships, adapting to the process has been a lot slower.

Family Motors says they had to purchase new software, and there are a few extra steps that can’t get started until a car is sold.

“Compared to a new car dealership we have to keep tabs on what license plates are expired and if the car has two license plates on the actual vehicle itself. If the vehicle is missing a license plate, we have to make sure we print a new temporary tag and make sure the license plates that are on the vehicle off and surrender them to the DMV,” explained Family Motors Store Manager Alex Orellana.

Both dealerships say they’ve had to make some changes when it comes to marketing as the new cars on the road will no longer have their place holder showing where the car came from, but Family Motors says that might be better for the law enforcement side of things.

“Here in town and in Lompoc we’ve had some of the inserts stolen from some of our vehicles and who knows what people are using them for, so it is going to cut down on those petty crimes,” Orellana said.

Santa Maria police say they plan on waiting a few more months before fully cracking down on cars that still have the dealership inserts.

Santa Maria Nissan Mazda says many of their customers have been getting their real plates from the DMV more quickly since this process has been put into place. The temporary plates expire 90 days after the sale.