California Highway Patrol Asks Drivers to Help Nab “Registration Scofflaws”

Anonymous, online tips have helped bring in $5 million to the state in registration revenue.

Would you turn in a fellow motorist for driving on California roadways without a Golden State license plate?

The California Highway Patrol is asking drivers to be their eyes on the road to nab "registration scofflaws."

California loses millions of dollars in tax revenue from residents whose cars, trucks or motorcycles are registered in other states or countries, according to the CHP.

Drivers who don’t register their cars in state may do so to avoid California’s high taxes, because they’re unable to comply with the state’s emissions laws or because they’re simply unaware that they have to, the agency said.

But the campaign sends a message that it doesn’t matter the reason: the CHP wants to convert those plates.

Anonymous tips generated by CHEATERS (Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws) brought in $757,000 to the state in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

Since its creation in 2004, CHEATERS has generated about $5 million in revenue for California.
If drivers see an out-of-state plate traveling on a California road, CHP wants them to fill out this online form.

It calls for the make, model, color and license plate number of the car, where it was seen and any identifying details such as bumper stickers or license plate frames.

If there’s enough information to prove the car’s owner is a California resident, they’ll be sent a letter telling them they have to register their car in state.

A select few drivers are exempt from registering their cars in California:

  • Active duty military personnel and their spouses (unless they’re originally from California)
  • Students paying out-of-state tuition while attending a public college or university

Drivers who do not meet those criteria have 20 days from the time they become a resident or get a job in state to re-register their vehicles.

Being registered to vote in California and paying in-state tuition at a university are among the ways to establish residency.

The cost to register a car in California is great than in most other states. To calculate how much it would cost to register your car in the Golden State, click here for the DMV’s fee calculator.

NBC4's Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.

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