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Calif. Legislature OKs bill to raise auto-sale documentation fees

September 2, 2011 |  1:41 pm


Assembly member Bob Blumenfield
The documentation fees auto dealers charge car buyers will go up by at least $25 if a state bill that has passed in both houses of the California Legislature is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB 1215 by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) passed the state Assembly with a 67-4 vote after a state Senate vote of 30 to 4 on Tuesday.

Under the bill, auto retailers will be able to raise the documentation fees charged for processing auto purchases and lease agreements to $80 from $55 for new- and used-car purchases and from $45 for car leases.

Dealers would also be required to run the vehicle identification number of any used auto for sale on their lots through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System to check whether the auto has a so-called branded title. Any vehicles showing up as having been totaled or bought back through a lemon law or a victim of some other catastrophe would get a red window sticker warning potential buyers of the auto's history.

Insurance carriers, repair shops, towing companies and salvage yards must report totaled vehicles to the database, overseen by the U.S. Justice Department.

The legislation is supported by law enforcement agencies, consumer groups and the California New Car Dealers Assn.

“This bill unleashes the power of technology to provide first in the nation consumer protections, cut red tape, and help save the state millions,” Blumenfield said.  “Buying a car, especially a used one, requires some detective work to determine its safety and value.  By requiring junk cars and death traps to be flagged with a warning sticker, consumers can see these vehicles for what they really are when shopping for a car.”

Blumenfield said California is the nation’s largest car market.  Last year, more than 800,000 used cars were sold through dealerships.

The bill is on Gov. Brown's desk for his signature or veto. 


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Photo: Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), left, looks on as state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) questions Michael Cohen, chief deputy director of the Department of Finance, during a state budget hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento on Feb. 23. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press