Amended in Senate July 8, 2013

Amended in Assembly April 24, 2013

California Legislature—2013–14 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 244

Introduced by Assembly Member Bonilla

February 6, 2013

An act to amend Section 5156 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.


AB 244, as amended, Bonilla. Vehicles: license plates: veterans.

Existing law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue special license plates under a special interest license plate program, as specified, and authorizes organizations, including veterans’ organizations, to participate in that program. Existing law authorizes any person who is the registered owner or lessee of a vehicle to apply for a special interest license plate that has a distinctive design or decal that honors all veterans or veterans who served in a particular war or armed conflict. Under existing law, these special interest license plates are subject to fees for issuance, renewal, or personalization that are additional to those required for nonspecialized license plates. Existing law requires that the revenue from those additional fees, less the DMV’s costs, be deposited in the Veterans Service Office Fund, and further requires that money in the Veterans Service Office Fund be available, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to the Department of Veterans Affairs for allocation and disbursement to counties for the operation of county veterans service offices.

Existing law also establishes a specialized license plate program and requires the DMV to issue specialized license plates to a sponsoring state agency that meets certain requirements. Existing law requires that DMV charge specified additional fees for the issuance, renewal, or transfer of specialized license plates, and requires that these additional fees, less the DMV’s administrative costs, be deposited in the Specialized License Plate Fund for appropriation and allocation to each sponsoring state agency, as specified.

This bill would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to apply to the DMV to sponsor a veterans specialized license plate, and would require the DMV to issue the veterans specialized license plates if the Department of Veteran’s Affairs meets the above-described requirements. The bill would require that these license plates be subject to the additional fees described above, and that the revenue from those additional fees, less the department’s costs, be deposited in the Veterans Service Office Fund.

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1


Section 5156 of the Vehicle Code is amended to



(a) (1) A state agency may apply to the department to
4sponsor a specialized license plate program, and the department
5shall issue specialized license plates for that program, if the agency
6complies with all of the requirements of this article.

7(2) The department shall not issue specialized license plates to
8a state agency for a vehicle that is exempt from the payment of
9registration fees pursuant to Section 9101 or 9103.

10(b) Except as provided in subdivision (d), the department shall
11not establish a specialized license plate program for an agency
12until the department has received not less than 7,500 applications
13for that agency’s specialized license plates. The agency shall collect
14and hold applications for the plates. Once the agency has received
15at least 7,500 applications, it shall submit the applications, along
16with the necessary fees, to the department. The department shall
17not issue a specialized license plate until the agency has received
18and submitted to the department not less than 7,500 applications
19for that particular specialized license plate within the time period
P3    1prescribed in this section. Advance payment to the department by
2the agency representing the department’s estimated or actual
3administrative costs associated with the issuance of a particular
4specialized license plate shall not constitute compliance with this
5requirement. The agency shall have 12 months, following the date
6of approval of the agency’s initial application to sponsor a
7specialized license plate program, to receive the required number
8of applications. If, after that 12 months, 7,500 applications have
9not been received, the agency shall immediately do either of the

11(1) Refund to all applicants all fees or deposits that have been

13(2) Contact the department to indicate the agency’s intent to
14undertake collection of additional applications and fees or deposits
15for an additional period, not to exceed 12 months, in order to obtain
16the minimum 7,500 applications. If the agency elects to exercise
17the option under this subparagraph, it shall contact each applicant
18who has submitted an application with the appropriate fees or
19deposits to determine if the applicant wishes a refund of fees or
20deposits or requests the continuance of the holding of the
21application and fees or deposits until that time that the agency has
22received 7,500 applications. The agency shall refund the fees or
23deposits to an applicant so requesting. The agency shall not collect
24and hold applications for a period exceeding 24 months following
25 the date of approval of the agency’s initial application to sponsor
26a specialized license plate program.

27(c) (1) If the number of outstanding and valid specialized license
28plates in a particular program, except as provided in subdivision
29(d), provided for in this article is less than 7,500, the department
30shall notify the sponsoring agency of that fact and shall inform the
31agency that if that number is less than 7,500 one year from the
32date of that notification, the department will no longer issue or
33replace those specialized license plates.

34(2) Those particular specialized license plates that were issued
35prior to the discontinuation provided by paragraph (1) may continue
36to be used and attached to the vehicle for which they were issued
37and may be renewed, retained, or transferred pursuant to this code.

38(d) (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs may sponsor a Gold
39Star Family specialized license plate program and the department
40may establish this specialized license plate program in the absence
P4    1of 7,500 paid applications as provided in subdivision (d) of Section

3(2) The Department of Veterans Affairs shall, upon receiving
4proof of eligibility from an applicant, authorize the department to
5issue Gold Star Family specialized license plates for a vehicle
6owned by an eligible family member of a member of the Armed
7Forces of the United States who was killed in the line of duty while
8on active duty during wartime service, or during an international
9terrorist attack that has been recognized by the United States
10 Secretary of Defense as an attack against the United States or a
11foreign nation friendly to the United States, or during military
12operations while serving outside the United States, including
13 commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States,
14or as part of a peacekeeping force, which includes personnel
15assigned to a force engaged in a peacekeeping operation authorized
16by the United Nations Security Council. An eligible family member
17is defined as all of the following:

18(A) A person who is otherwise eligible under this article to
19register a motor vehicle.

20(B) A person who shows proof from the United States
21Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense that
22the member who was in the Armed Forces of the United States
23was killed in the line of duty while on active duty in the military.

24(C) A person who bears, and shows proof satisfactory to the
25Department of Veterans Affairs of, one of the following
26relationships to the member of the Armed Forces killed in the line
27of duty while serving on active duty:

28(i) Widow.

29(ii) Widower.

30(iii) Biological parent.

31(iv) Adoptive parent.

32(v) Stepparent.

33(vi) Foster parent in loco parentis.

34(vii) Biological child.

35(viii) Adoptive child.

36(ix) Stepchild.

37(x) Sibling.

38(xi) Half-sibling.

39(xii) Grandparent.

40(xiii) Grandchild.

P5    1(3) Upon the death of a person issued a Gold Star Family
2specialized license plate, the license plate shall be transferred to
3the surviving spouse, if he or she requests, or shall be returned to
4the department within 60 days after the death of the plateholder
5or upon the expiration of the vehicle registration, whichever occurs

7(e) (1) The Department of Veterans Affairs shall apply to the
8department to sponsor a veterans specialized license plate program,
9and the department shall issue license plates for that program if
10the Department of Veterans Affairs meets the requirements
11prescribed by this section.

12(2) begin deleteNotwithstanding Section 5155, the end deletebegin insertThe end insertdesign of the veterans
13 specialized license plate shall be identical to the design of the
14veterans special interest license plate issued pursuant to Section
155068 on or before January 1, 2010begin insert, and the decals for the plate
16shall be identical to those offered pursuant to Section 5068end insert

17(3) Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 5157, revenue
18derived from the additional fees prescribed by Section 5157 for
19the issuance, renewal, or transfer of the veterans specialized license
20plates shall be deposited, after the department deducts its
21administrative costs, in the Veterans Service Officebegin delete Fundsend deletebegin insert Fundend insert,
22 created by Section 972.2 of the Military and Veterans Code.