California DMV Certified Auto Dealer License Educator #CCC0028

Who can use California Dealer Plates (and how to use them)?

November 23rd, 2021 by Jessica Biarbe

Car with California License Plates

In this article we will discuss the proper and improper usage of dealer’s special plates. Upon receipt of the special plates from DMV, remember to maintain the registration card or a facsimile copy with the corresponding dealer plate with the vehicle bearing the special plate. Dealer plates are issued to both Retail and Wholesale Dealers depending on the number of plates you order. Should you find the need to replace a dealer plate or order more you may complete the DMV Form OL22. Please note that Lessor Retailer Dealers are not privileged to dealer plates.

How to properly use California Dealer Plates

  • A dealer plate cannot be placed on your personally owned vehicle, the vehicle must be in your dealer inventory for sale that you lawfully own or possess
  • The following individuals may operate a vehicle with dealer plates for any purpose:
    • An individual who is the sole owner, general partner, manager of a limited liability company or corporate officer or director of a dealership providing they are actively engaged in the management and control of the business operations of the dealership.
    • General Manager, Sales Manager or Business Manager who is actively engaged in the management and control of the business operations when no other individual listed in #1 meets the criteria.
  • Any licensed driver if an individual identified in Section B is also in the vehicle.
    • An unaccompanied adult who regularly resides in the household of individuals identified in section B to pick up or drop off that individual.
  • A licensed driver who is an employee of the dealership may drive a vehicle with dealer plates when they are acting within the course of his or her employment.
  • Any licensed driver may operate a vehicle with dealer plates for special event purposes if the operator carries a letter of authorization identifying the vehicle, duration, location of operation and person(s) authorized to operate the vehicle
  • A licensed driver who is a prospective buyer or lessee may test drive a vehicle with special plates for up to seven days.
    • A salesperson is not required to be present
    • The operator must carry a letter of authorization from the dealer identifying the vehicle, duration, location of operation and person(s) authorized to operate the vehicle
  • Employees of a commercial vehicle dealer who operates a commercial vehicle in the course of their employment may take a commercial drive test in a commercial vehicle displaying their dealer plate.

Misuse of Dealer Plates

Use of dealer plates does not extend to a licensee’s family members unless the vehicle is used in conjunction with the firm’s business activities.

On work or service vehicles including parts delivery vehicles, pick up vehicles and vehicles loaned to service customers

On vehicles owned by the dealer and rented or leased to individuals other than licensed salesperson

On unregistered vehicles used to transport more than one load of other vehicles for the purpose of sale.

Dealer Plate Placement

Proper usage of the dealer plate should be placed at the rear of the vehicle.

The plate should not be displayed in the window of the vehicle, it should be attached to the vehicle if at all possible.

Any other license plates attached to the vehicle must remain on the vehicle.

Posted in: Auto Dealer Business

Information within this publication is not intended to give legal advice or compliance with any Federal, State, or local laws and/or regulations. It should be noted that laws, regulations and standards are subject to revisions, additions or deletions at any time. If legal advice or assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be obtained.