Used cars usually come with used license plates

by in News

Q. Honk: I bought a used car from a dealership. The dealer put those new temporary paper plates on, having removed the existing permanent plates and throwing them away. I asked the salesman about it, and he said they take all plates off of all used vehicles. Not efficient. Hopefully I’ll receive new plates from the Department of Motor Vehicles without any problems. What does the new law require?

– Phil Seminara, Anaheim 

A. Just that your car has legitimate back and front plates, either the temporary ones with unique numbers until your permanent ones arrive, or the permanent ones the previous owner had on the car.

Seems weird to take permanent plates off of all of the used cars before letting them leave the lot.

“As to why the dealer would be removing those, I don’t know,” said Marty Greenstein, a DMV spokesman. “That is not part of the law.”

However, on an individual basis, there could be various reasons why a dealer would take off permanent plates and replace them with temporary ones, such as if they were beat up, or perhaps the previous owner wanted to retain personalized plates.

Anyway, Phil, Honk applauds you for putting the environment and concerns about waste above just accepting shiny, new plates.

Q. While traveling in New York, I noticed some license plates with small decals of medals that were issued to deserving Vietnam vets. The decals were rather small, perhaps a half-inch by an inch, and didn’t block any necessary info the local gendarmes might require. I’m pretty sure the decals were placed by the individual. Can’t see the state of N.Y. doing something like that. They were placed pretty lined up though, right along the left edges of the plates. Is this legal in California?

– Robert Scott, Mission Viejo

A. Honk’s expertise ends at the state line, so he isn’t familiar with the laws back East, but he can tell you what goes here.

Anyone can order “HONORING VETERANS” along the bottom of their plates. But then there are more specialized plates that require documentation proving that you deserve to trumpet an accomplishment.

For example, recipients of such awards as the Air Force Cross and the Navy Medal of Honor can get plates with “LEGION OF VALOR” to one side, and a sticker depicting the medal on the other. There are plates showing the Ex-POW Medal and the Purple Heart.

Another plate, without an image of a medal, honors Pearl Harbor survivors who were in the service at the time and stationed there; not too many of those folks on the roads anymore, of course. Qualifying relatives who lost a family member in the line of duty with the U.S. military can get a Gold Star plate with the emblem.

Here in California, you can’t just add your own stuff to a plate.

“No decals, no stickers (except registration tags), no magnets,” said Duane Graham, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol. “You can’t do anything after-market to the plate.”

Honkin’ tasty: When an Air Canada plane got stuck in its homeland on a Fredericton, New Brunswick tarmac for hours because of snowy weather, a pilot called a local restaurant from the cabin and ordered 23 pizzas. It took an hour, 15 minutes to get them to the plane full of thankful crew members and passengers (Source: USA Today).

To ask Honk questions, reach him at honk@ocregister.com. He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: ocregister.com/tag/honk.