Q: My grandmother is blind and I am her caretaker. I drive her to all of her destinations. Can we obtain a disabled parking placard to use when she is with me?

A: Yes, your grandmother can apply for a disabled person (DP) placard to use with any vehicle she rides in. She will have to complete a form called “Application for Disabled Person Parking Placard or Plates,” found on the DMV Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov/forms/formsmost.htm. In addition to completing the form, your grandmother’s medical professional is required to certify the disability on the form.


Q. I forgot to get a smog inspection by the required date. What will my penalty be?

A: Your registration card and sticker will not be sent to you until the DMV receives notification that your vehicle has passed a smog inspection.

If you paid your registration fee before the due date, no additional fees will accrue. If you have not yet paid the registration fee, make sure to do so as soon as possible! The late fees increase as time passes. 

Please keep in mind that as of Jan. 1, 2009, DMV will no longer issue temporary operating permits to allow more time to obtain a smog certificate unless the vehicle has been tested and failed. Extensions now cost $50 and allowed for no more than 60 days beyond the registration expiration date. The extension is not renewable. The $50 fee will be waived for income-eligible vehicle owners accepted into the Bureau of Automotive Repair Consumer Assistance Program (CAP).

Many drivers are eligible to renew their registration online. Visit www.dmv.ca.gov and select “Registration Renewal” in the “Online Services” tab.

Q: I’ve heard that California law requires me to turn on my headlights when it’s raining, but my vehicle has daytime running lights. Isn’t this sufficient?

A: No. The California Vehicle Code requires that you use your headlights — not just your daytime running lights — in several situations.

Your headlights must be turned on if it is cloudy, raining, snowing or foggy. If the weather requires that your windshield wipers be turned on, your headlights must also be turned on, as well as on frosty mornings when car windows are likely to be foggy, and on narrow country or mountain roads.

This is a safety measure that should be taken any time you have trouble seeing other cars — that means they probably have trouble seeing you! Using your headlights helps to avoid head-on collisions.

George Valverde is the director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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