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DMV investigators combat unlicensed vehicle dismantlers 

Strike team targets the Nipomo Mesa region

–Investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) targeted 35 locations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties in an effort to combat unlicensed vehicle dismantlers. During a two-day enforcement operation on September 6 and 7, DMV investigators cited 14 individuals for illegally dismantling vehicles and other offenses. In addition, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) found seven of these locations in violation of state and federal environmental regulations.

“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.

The DMV Investigations Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team (VDIST) inspected business locations suspected to be involved in unlicensed vehicle dismantling activity in the Nipomo Mesa area, which includes the cities of Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles. The investigators found vehicles that were in the process of being dismantled by unlicensed individuals.

During this operation, the strike team focused on verifying that businesses complied 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 in order to recover stolen vehicles or components and parts. “We want unlicensed vehicle dismantlers to know that the DMV has an active law enforcement team that continuously attacks problem areas throughout the state,” said Alvarez.

Unlicensed automobile dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with the licensing requirements. In addition, they 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 strike team obtained information from state and local agencies that indicated unlicensed dismantlers were operating in the targeted area. The strike team collaborated with DTSC in accordance with state law. In addition, the strike team worked with the San Luis Obispo County Auto Theft Taskforce, National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff.

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

In September 2016, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 1858, which requires the DMV to collaborate with representatives from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), and the State Air Resources Board (ARB) to investigate the occurrences of unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantling.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at