DMV Combats Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantlers in San Diego and Fresno

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January 25, 2018

Strike team targets 63 locations and issues 30 citations

Sacramento – This week investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) conducted simultaneous enforcement operations in San Diego and Fresno aimed at combating unlicensed vehicle dismantlers. DMV investigators targeted 63 locations on January 23, 2018. Approximately half of the 63 locations inspected were issued at least one citation for either operating as an unlicensed dismantler or auto repair facility, or selling a vehicle not registered to a seller.

In the Otay Mesa area of San Diego County, DMV investigators inspected 52 businesses and issued 23 misdemeanor citations. In Fresno, they inspected 11 businesses and issued seven citations.

“It is against the law for anyone to act as a vehicle dismantler without having an established place of business, meeting specific requirements, and having a current valid license or temporary permit issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles,” said DMV Chief of Investigations Frank Alvarez. “We have created a Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team (VDIST) whose sole mission is to identify and shut down unlicensed vehicle dismantlers.”

During the operations in San Diego and Fresno, the strike teams focused on verifying businesses are complying with state laws and regulations, as well as environmental guidelines. In addition, investigators conducted Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspections, and examined engine and license plate numbers to recover stolen vehicles or components and parts.

Unlicensed vehicle dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with the licensing requirements. They also ignore environmental regulatory requirements, insurance obligations, workplace safety requirements, and avoid paying taxes. For example, vehicle fluids can seep and contaminate ground water and defective parts can be sold to unsuspecting people, creating a potential public safety hazard.

The DMV strike team collaborated with two environmental specialists from County of San Diego Environmental Health (Hazardous Materials Division) and one representative from the State Water Resources Control Board.

To report unlicensed vehicle dismantling activity to the DMV Investigations Division, complete the online complaint form or visit, to report possible abuse.


Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 1858, which requires the DMV to collaborate with representatives from the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), California Air Resources Board (CARB), and California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, to investigate the occurrences of unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantling.

Unlicensed Vehicle Dismantler Enforcement Operations:

  • On July 7, 2017, DMV investigators issued 15 citations and impounded eight vehicles in the Los Angeles area.
  • During a two-day enforcement operation in the San Luis Obispo area on September 6 and 7, 2017, DMV investigators cited 14 individuals for illegally dismantling vehicles, and DTSC found seven of these locations in violation of state environmental regulations.
  • On October 26, 2017, DMV investigators targeted 36 locations in the Wilmington area (Los Angeles County) and cited 28 individuals for unlicensed vehicle dismantling and related offenses. Two investigators with the California Air Resources Board inspected these locations for violation of state environmental regulations.
  • On November 29, 2017, as part of the Pomona Environmental Joint Task Force, the VDIST conducted business inspections in Pomona. Investigators inspected approximately 22 locations and issued 11 misdemeanor citations for unlicensed dismantler, unlicensed auto repair facility, and other related violations.
DMV Investigators inspected 11 locations in Fresno
DMV Investigators inspected 11 locations in Fresno.

DMV Investigators inspected 52 locations in San Diego.
DMV Investigators inspected 52 locations in San Diego.