California Vehicle Code 5204 CVC: Driving with Expired Registration

California Vehicle Code 5204 CVC specifies the penalties for driving with an expired registration, which can incur an infraction and a fine of up to $197. This law also states any exceptions that may impact these charges, which can affect the outcome of your car accident claim.

When another vehicle strikes you, you may want to tackle your lawsuit as soon as possible. Whether you were injured or a loved one was involved and killed in a car accident, you need compensation as soon as possible, and obstacles in your way can lead to you paying out of pocket for longer before your compensation is available. Unfortunately, many car accident victims find themselves struggling to take action in the wake of a car accident, especially if there are complicating factors caused by the at-fault party.

For example, if the other driver violated California Vehicle Code 5204 CVC: driving with an expired registration, it can impact how your claim is handled. If the other party is facing traffic court, for example, it can lengthen the amount of time it takes to complete your case. Fortunately, with the attorneys at Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, you can get the help you need to pursue compensation and get closure.

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Defining California’s Laws on Attaching Vehicle Registration Tabs

California laws are specific about attaching vehicle registration tabs and the steps you need to take to do so. It also specifies certain exceptions that can impact the vehicles involved in your crash. Below is the full text of CVC section 5204:

5204. (a) Except as provided by subdivisions (b) and (c), a tab shall indicate the year of expiration and a tab shall indicate the month of expiration. Current month and year tabs shall be attached to the rear license plate assigned to the vehicle for the last preceding registration year in which license plates were issued, and, when so attached, the license plate with the tabs shall, for the purposes of this code, be deemed to be the license plate, except that truck tractors, and commercial motor vehicles having a declared gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more, shall display the current month and year tabs upon the front license plate assigned to the truck tractor or commercial motor vehicle. Vehicles that fail to display current month and year tabs or display expired tabs are in violation of this section.

(b) The requirement of subdivision (a) that the tabs indicate the year and the month of expiration does not apply to fleet vehicles subject to Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 5301) or vehicles defined in Section 468.

(c) Subdivision (a) does not apply when proper application for registration has been made pursuant to Section 4602 and the new indicia of current registration have not been received from the department.

(d) This section is enforceable against any motor vehicle that is driven, moved, or left standing upon a highway, or in an offstreet public parking facility, in the same manner as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 4000.

(e) Prior to issuing a citation for a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer shall verify, using available department records, that no current registration exists for that vehicle. A citation shall not be issued for failure to comply with this section against any vehicle that has a current registration on file with the department.


If you are struggling to understand the text of a specific law or statute, you can always reach out to our team to learn more about these laws and how they can impact your case. We provide support that helps our clients not only navigate their lawsuits but also understand the specifics when keeping them up to date on their cases.

CVC 5204 Can Have a Significant Impact on Your Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you are involved in a car accident, you typically want your California personal injury lawsuit to go as smoothly as possible. Any complications, obstacles, or roadblocks can impact the length of time you have to wait for the help you need. Unfortunately, for many people, that can lead to paying out of pocket for some time before your compensation is available.

Generally, a traffic ticket for 5204 CVC does not have a significant impact on a personal injury lawsuit. However, if the driver has committed multiple infractions, especially in the course of causing your car accident, they may face traffic court and other penalties that can lengthen the amount of time that it takes to settle your personal injury lawsuit. That means you may be waiting longer to get compensated fairly.

However, mistakes and missteps on their part may help you in comparison in your claim in court. For example, an expired registration may suggest more negligent behavior to the judge, which can strengthen your version of events. However, rather than expecting this traffic violation to help your personal injury lawsuit, you can always reach out to a personal injury lawyer to learn more about how we can help.


Minor traffic violations may not have an outsized impact on your car accident lawsuit, but others may have more sway over the outcome of your case. For example, if the at-fault party has committed multiple violations, it can lead to changes in how your claim is handled.

Legal Defenses the Accused May Use for Their Infraction

In some cases, the at-fault party may have received one of these violations but may choose not to pay. Instead of paying for their infraction, they may instead try to raise a legal defense. They may attempt to pursue a defense on one of the following legal grounds:

  • The police made a mistake
  • They showed proof of correction
  • The police had no probable cause

While the at-fault party focuses on traffic court and fighting their violation, we can work on building your car accident lawsuit. That includes gathering evidence for your claim, filing the right documentation, and calculating the value of your damages. Acting now can help you get the compensation you need for your suffering and overcome your injuries.

Similar Offenses Can Impact Your Case

California Vehicle Code 5204 CVC: driving with expired registration is only one of many similar offenses. Issues with driver’s license plates and registration can lead to traffic tickets and violations on their driving record. Below are a few of the similar offenses that a driver may face, which can potentially lead to high fines and may reflect poorly in a car accident claim against them.

Display of License Plates (VC 5200)

CVC 5200 refers to displaying license plates with specific locations where they should be fastened and displayed. According to this law, if two license plates are issued for a vehicle, they should be attached to the front and rear of the vehicle. If only one license plate is issued, it should be placed on the rear of the car.

This infraction can result in a ticket and fines. These may be valued up to $195. You may also be required to pay court costs.

Fastening a License Plate (VC 5201)

CVC 5201 refers to the specifics of how you must fasten your license plate to your vehicle. Your license plate must be securely fastened so it will not fall off or sit in a way that is not clear and legible. Violations of this law can lead to being charged with an infraction, which comes with a penalty fine of $196.

Misuse of Handicap Placards or License Plates (VC 4461)

If someone has been charged with using another person’s disabled placards or plates, using an invalid placard, or wrongfully parking in a handicapped parking space, they may be in violation of CVC 4461. Remember that this violation is treated much more seriously than many similar offenses discussed above. In fact, this charge is a misdemeanor.

Misdemeanor offenses come with much harsher penalties, including jail time for up to 6 months. Someone charged with this offense may also face a maximum fine of up to $1,000. That can lead to more time in court if they choose to defend themselves, which can conflict with the time needed for your lawsuit.

Pro Tip

In some cases, a driver may face multiple infractions. For example, if they fail to properly display their license plate and are missing a registration sticker, they may have infractions for both of these violations, leading to more fines and penalties.

California Vehicle Code 5204 CVC: Driving with Expired Registration FAQs

As you navigate any legal claim against another driver, you may have certain questions that can be impacted by state law. Because of this, you may be asking how Vehicle Code 5204 CVC can impact the outcome and proceedings for your lawsuit. Below are a few of the most common questions we are asked about this issue, so reach out for help if you need further answers.

What is 5204 CVC?

California Vehicle Code 5204 requires all drivers to attach current registration stickers to the rear license plate of each vehicle. This law has exceptions for truck tractors and commercial vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 lb. Failure to do so can result in a traffic ticket for nearly $200.

Can you get car insurance with an expired registration?

Typically, if a person is seeking insurance with a currently expired registration, they may be denied. However, that does not mean the insurance coverage will end if the person’s insurance was already instated. To fix this issue, you may need to pay any remaining fees, potentially including a lapse fee.

Will insurance cover an accident if registration is expired?

As long as the at-fault party’s vehicle is insured, the accident should be covered. Insurance is valid regardless of registration status, which means it should still apply. However, if you face difficulties from the at-fault party’s insurance company, you can always reach out to us for help.

Does an expired registration ticket affect insurance?

Generally, you should not face issues with your insurance coverage over an expired registration ticket. These tickets have no direct impact on your coverage. As long as you continue to pay your premiums and do not miss payments, you should not face losses of coverage.

How much is a 5204 CVC ticket?

5204 CVC only incurs a fine for this infraction. That fine is $197. Failure to pay this fine may incur other penalties.

Is 5204 CVC a misdemeanor?

No, California vehicle code 5204 is not a misdemeanor. This charge is only an infraction, which incurs only a fine. Drivers who receive a traffic ticket for this violation will not receive points on their license.

When will 5204 CVC fall off the driver’s record?

Because 5204 CVC is only an infraction, you can expect this charge not to affect the driver’s record as long as they do not receive more traffic violations and points on their license. However, if they receive more points within a certain time, it can lead to a driver’s license suspension. As long as the at-fault driver has not received multiple violations within a year or more, it may fall off the driver’s record quickly.

Reach Out for Legal Guidance for Your Case

When an accident happens, having complications that lengthen the timeline of your car accident lawsuit can be frustrating. You are hurt and suffering, and dealing with complications from traffic court can leave you feeling frustrated and facing longer times to get the support you need. Fortunately, you can always reach out to a California car accident attorney for support during this difficult time.

At Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, we provide top-rated legal guidance to help you pursue the compensation you need, even if the other driver has committed a traffic violation and is facing the consequences. We offer free consultations to discuss the specifics of your recovery and what we can do to help you seek compensation for your injuries. To learn more about our legal services and how we can represent you in the courtroom, do not hesitate to reach out by calling or filling out our online contact form.

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