Use of California Dealer License Plates
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Who can use California Dealer Plates (Special Plates)?
If the vehicle is in the Dealer’s inventory for sale (owned or lawfully possessed by the Dealer) the following individuals may operate a vehicle with dealer plates for any purpose:
(a) A sole owner, a general partner, a manager of a limited liability company, or a corporate officer or director of a Dealer provided that individual is actively engaged in the management and control of the Dealer’s business operations.
(b) A general manager, business manager, or sales manager who is actively engaged in the management and control of the business operations of the Dealer when no other individual meets the criteria in (a) above
(c) A driver -if- an individual identified in section (b) is also in the vehicle.
(d) An unaccompanied adult who regularly resides in the household of individuals identified in section (b) to pick up or drop off that individual.
Who may operate a vehicle with dealer plates with limitations?
(a) Employees of a Dealer when they are acting within the course and scope of their employment
(b) Drivers for special event purposes, if they carry a letter of authorization from the Dealer identifying the vehicle, duration, and location of the event.
(c) A prospective buyer or lessee to test drive a vehicle for up to seven days.
- A salesperson is not required to be present
- If a salesperson is not present, the operator must carry a letter of authorization from the Dealer identifying the vehicle, duration, and authorization to operate the vehicle
(d) Employees of the Dealer, who must operate a commercial vehicle in the course of their employment to take a commercial test drive
Proper placement of Special Plates
- Dealer plates must be securely attached to the rear of the vehicle.
- The plate must either cover or replace the existing license plate.
Frequently Asked Dealer Plate Questions
Q: Can I move a trailer using dealer plates?
A: Yes, a trailer with dealer plates may be pulled by another vehicle.
Q: Can a family member drive a vehicle that a dealer owns with dealer plates?
A: No, unless they are listed on the dealer license -and- engaged in the management and control of the dealership.
Q: Are Dealer plates ever registered to a vehicle?
A: No. Dealer plates are registered to the dealer, never the vehicle.
Q: Can a Wholesale Dealer use dealer plates?
A: Yes. Dealer plates are available to both Retail and Wholesale licensed dealers.
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