SAN DIEGO -
The state loses millions of dollars every year due to residents who do not register their cars in California, 10News learned.
An out-of-state license plate may mean someone is visiting the state, but thousands of them are actually breaking the law.
"When you move to California, you have 20 days to obtain a California registration and a California driver's license," explained California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Brian Pennings.
"I feel like, you know, if I have to have a current license plate, they should," said driver Sara Turner.
The state agrees, but don't have a way to enforce it.
The CHP can ticket drivers for improper registration, but will not pull someone over just for having an out-of-state license plate. Instead, they mostly rely on whistleblowers.
On the "cheaters" page on the CHP's website, anyone can submit tips and CHP officers will follow up.
The CHP averages about 23,000 tips a year, and so far in 2012, more than $1.6 million in fees have been collected due to tips. Since the "cheaters" program started in 2004, $7.4 million has been collected.
According to the CHP, active military members are exempt, but for everyone else missing the 20-day deadline, it means a penalty of 40 to 160 percent of the vehicle license fee, depending on how long a driver waits.
"Yes, it is high and yes, it's a lot of money, but in order for us to enjoy the infrastructure that we have, this is a necessity," said Pennings.
Registration fees are used to pay for highway infrastructure, the CHP said.
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