No notice, but lots of confusion over vehicle registration renewal

No notice, but lots of confusion over vehicle registration renewal
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It's not always a good thing when you don't get a bill. For about 2 million Californians, they'll be expected to pay their vehicle registration in July, but they never got a notice like usual.

And it's still not clear what they'll owe.

Blame it on the budget battles in Sacramento.

In July, the rate for vehicle registration is supposed to go back down, but Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to keep it at the current higher level to bring in more funds.

Right now, the rate for the annual fee is 1.15 percent of a vehicle's value. But, as of July 1, the rate's supposed to go down to 0.65 percent.

"I just think it's another way to keep taking money out from the citizens," Bakersfield resident Roger Tilford complained. He hadn't heard about the delay in the registration notices.

Drivers with renewals due in July, should have expected to get their notices in May.

But as the budget skirmishes continued, the governor had signed a law to postpone sending out the renewal notices.

"We're getting a lot of calls, a lot of people are concerned," Bakersfield AAA branch supervisor Chere Smith told Eyewitness News on Friday. The auto club is staying on top of the situation as much as possible, their members can renew registration at the AAA offices.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles usually sends out the renewal notices about 60 days before they are due, according to DMV spokesman Jaime Garza. Reached by phone in Sacramento, Garza explained that sending out each notice costs about $4.

They didn't want to send out renewal notices with the new, lower rate in July -- and then possibly send out another notice with a second bill to make up the difference, if the rate was later retained at the higher level.

"We don't know what the rate will be," Garza said. "We're sitting tight till we know."

It all means drivers can not pay up -- yet.

"Neither AAA, or the local DMV, or any DMV can accept fees for registration due July first or later," Smith said.

Smith and the DMV spokesman said at least drivers should not get tickets if they have expired tags.

"Sacramento has advised all California law enforcement that the tags are not going to be sent out at this time," Smith said. And Garza said the DMV has also notified officers in other states through the "national law enforcement telecommunication system" and federal Department of Justice.

Both Garza and Smith said drivers will have a grace period to pay up, once their registration deadline is passed. Garza said no late fees will be assessed for 30 days after the renewal is due.

It's not clear yet what will happen for drivers whose registration is due in the months after July.

Garza said the DMV will start collecting July renewals in July. His best advice is for drivers to go to the department website for updated information after July 1. The site is dmv.ca.gov.

But, things are still in limbo. "It's just a waiting game till we hear from the state," AAA's Smith said.

And it doesn't sit well with drivers.

"It seems like it's pretty silly that they can't get it straightened out," Bakersfield resident Chris Satterlee observed. "And take care of the basic needs of the state."