California Highway Patrol Appeals to Citizen Spies

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
california highway patrol appeals to citizen spies

Should Californians snitch on drivers who avoid the state’s motoring taxes by driving around on out-of-state plates? Yes! says the California Highway Patrol, who’ve established the Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws or CHEATERS program. The OC Register reports (in its own passively constructed sort of way) that it’s not about the money. Just kidding. It is. “Last year there were fees collected on 3,383 out-of-state license plate violations, which resulted in the collection of more than $1 million in fees, or an average of $297.58 per case, according to the CHP. Since the start of the program in 2004, $4 million has been collected in fees . . .

Residents are able to report out-of-state license plates at the CHP’s Web site, The state and license plate number must be included, as well as the make, model and color of the vehicle, and the date, time and location where the vehicle was observed.

CHiPs doesn’t pay for the information, but they do appreciate the help with this large and growing problem. It is large and growing right? Well . . . “Currently, there are no exact estimates as to how many out-of-state car registrations are residents. “That is the reason why we have created this program,” [CHP Commander Fran] Clader said.

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  • Ruckover Ruckover on Jun 07, 2009

    marshall, as I understand it, once a home is purchased, the tax rate stays the same for that property until it is sold again. This forces new buyers to pay higher amounts. Two homes of equal value on the same block might well have two wildly different tax levies on them. I do not see this as a rational method of funding government.

  • Fincar1 Fincar1 on Jun 07, 2009

    "I do not see this as a rational method of funding government." It started as a method to keep old couples from being taxed out of their houses if they wanted to keep living in them. The state of Washington used to really push the "turn in your neighbor for out-of-state plates" thing too, especially when it was charging a rip-off excise tax based on the state's determined vehicle value which was always more than you could hope to sell the car for. And we're next door to Oregon which charges a straight weight fee only. There are a lot of difficulties with that though; for instance we have several large navy bases, a big air force base, and one of the biggest army forts here, so you see a lot of out-of-state plates that are legitimately used on service people's cars. It can be kind of comical actually, the driveway with a Florida car, a Virginia car, and a Washington car...the last three duty stations. Or an apartment house near a base, you can see plates from a dozen states in the lot. In general, the ability and willingness of people and employers to move to another state when the present one gets money-hungry enough to torpedo the business climate serves to some extent as a check on states' taxing schemes. The only problem there is that we now have the federal government trying to bring us all down to the New York/California/Chicago level.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jun 08, 2009

    Ever visit Manhattan ? You will note a lot of CT, VT and NH plates parked day after day on the same residential streets. Many of the NY reg cars are actually registered upstate or on Long Island at the "summer house". I'm very sure that the 'Congestion pricing' scam Bloomberg will push again in his bought and paid for third term will include figuring out which cars spend which days inside the cordon....and sending out bills.

  • Tedward Tedward on Jun 08, 2009

    "Stop Snitching" was a stupid and not-well thought out campaign, but at least it could be justified by the brutal and unfair practices of urban police departments. Police urging you to "start snitching" is great way to cause violence between neighbors and to reduce trust in the community. The only upside? Revenue generation. I think the "start snitching" campaign has less going for it ultimately.