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Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers


Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers

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Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team

The State of California is actively confronting the problem of unlicensed vehicle dismantling. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 1858 in September 2016, requiring the DMV to collaborate with representatives from six state agencies and investigate unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantling. This law also established the multiagency Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team (VDIST) tasked with enforcement, investigating environmental damage, tax evasion, and public harm that occurs because of unlicensed vehicle dismantling.

This law enforcement team continuously attacks problem areas throughout the state and is made up of DMV Investigators whose sole mission is to identify and cite unlicensed vehicle dismantlers. The DMV is leading efforts with the following state agencies to address unlicensed vehicle dismantling in California:

California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)
State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)
Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)
California Air Resources Board (CARB)
California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA)

Why is this a problem?

  • An estimated 1.2 million vehicles are disposed annually in California – and approximately 360,000 wind up in the hands of unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantlers.
  • Unlicensed vehicle dismantling occurs when the vehicle is stripped for parts without required environmental protections.
  • Unlicensed vehicle dismantling occurs not only in private garages and industrial areas, but also in residential neighborhoods, near parks, schools, and vulnerable waterways such as storm drains.
  • Individuals who dismantle vehicles without proper permits typically do not properly dispose of chemicals such as engine oil and transmission and radiator fluids. This hazardous waste ends up in rivers and streams, and contaminates the public’s drinking water.
  • Defective auto parts can contribute to serious vehicle collisions.
  • Economically, unlicensed vehicle dismantlers drain the state’s finances of millions of dollars in sales tax. These operations pay salaries under the table and do not provide workers’ compensation or insurance.

Unlicensed Dismantling Violations

Violators face a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Environmental violations can carry a civil penalty of $25,000 per violation and fines ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.

How to Report Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantler Activity:

Unlicensed vehicle dismantling can happen anywhere. Anyone who suspects a person or business may be dismantling vehicles without the proper license or permit, should complete the online complaint form.

Application Requirements for Dismantler License

Learn about the application requirements to obtain a dismantler license.

Public Awareness Campaign

Help spread the word that unlicensed vehicle dismantling activity is against the law.

  • Selling used vehicle parts illegally.
  • Stripping down vehicles.
  • Releasing hazardous waste into the environment.

Download and share this poster developed to educate and raise public awareness:

Dismantling Vehicles Without a License is Against the Law Poster (PDF) – English | Spanish

News Releases

DMV Combats Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Los Angeles County (May 4, 2018)

DMV Combats Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Sacramento County (March 28, 2018)

DMV Combats Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Los Angeles County (February 23, 2018)

DMV Combats Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in San Diego and Fresno (January 25, 2018)

DMV Launches Awareness Campaign to Combat Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantling (November 27, 2017)

DMV Investigators Combat Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in Los Angeles County (October 27, 2017)

DMV Investigators Combat Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in the San Luis Obispo Area (September 8, 2017)


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