Crackdown on Unlicensed Dismantlers Aims to Protect Public Health and Safety

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May 26, 2022

DMV leads multi-agency strike team in targeting dozens of Fresno County locations

Fresno – Investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles led a multi-agency strike team in issuing 25 citations to 25 unlicensed auto repair shops and vehicle dismantlers during an enforcement operation in Fresno County yesterday, May 25. The crackdown targeted 41 locations to verify they are complying with state laws and environmental guidelines. The Department of Toxic Substances Control inspected 28 locations and issued 10 citations for hazardous waste violations. The inspections focused on locations that receive and sell used auto parts to determine whether they are dealing with stolen vehicles and related components.

“This illegal activity poses potential public safety hazards,” said DMV Director Steve Gordon. “Many unlicensed vehicle dismantlers dispose of harmful materials improperly and sell stolen auto parts to unsuspecting buyers. For example, vehicle fluids can seep and contaminate ground water, and consumers may end up purchasing defective parts.”

The Vehicle Industry Dismantler Strike Team was established by a 2016 law and reinstated by Governor Newsom with the signing of Senate Bill 366 (2021, Umberg). It stipulates the DMV lead a team of representatives with the California Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), California Air Resources Board and California Department of Tax and Fee Administration to investigate unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantling.

Unlicensed vehicle dismantlers function in the underground economy and do not comply with state licensing requirements or pay taxes. They also ignore environmental regulations, insurance obligations, and workplace safety requirements.

“This crackdown is critical to protecting both environmental and public health,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “Improper handling and disposal of harmful materials puts safety at risk for the workers themselves and the community as a whole, and can be disastrous for the environment.”

It is against the law for anyone to act as a vehicle dismantler, auto repair facility or dealer without having an established place of business, meeting specific requirements, and having a current valid license or temporary permit issued by the DMV. Violators face a fine up to $1,000 and can spend as long as one year in jail. Environmental violations can carry a civil penalty of $25,000 per violation and fines ranges between $5,000 and $100,000.

The DMV is able to carry out these types of enforcements in a more effective manner by using modern crime fighting technology and databases that assist investigators in identifying and tracking potential unscrupulous activity.

To report unlicensed vehicle dismantling activity to the DMV Investigations Division, complete the Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantler Complaint – California DMV, which can be found on the DMV website at


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