Santiago Law Successfully Combats Illegal Dismantling of Vehicles
Sacramento, CA) – In 2016, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago authored Assembly Bill 1858, a critical piece of environmental justice legislation aimed at addressing unlicensed vehicle dismantling in California. Co-sponsored by the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association (SCADA) and the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), AB 1858 took effect on January 1, 2017 and has led to the creation of the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Vehicle Dismantler Industry Strike Team. On November 27, 2017 the DMV Strike Team launched a first-of-its-kind statewide campaign to inform the public of the health and safety risks posed by illegal dismantling.
An estimated 1.2 million vehicles are disposed of annually in California – and approximately 360,000 – wind up in the hands of unlicensed and unregulated dismantlers. This activity occurs not only in private garages and industrial areas, but also in residential neighborhoods, near parks, schools, and vulnerable waterways such as storm drains. Individuals who dismantle vehicles without permits typically do not properly dispose of chemicals such as engine oil and transmission and radiator fluids. This hazardous waste can end up in rivers and streams and contaminate drinking water, as well as soil. Defective auto parts also could contribute to serious vehicle collisions. Economically, unlicensed vehicle dismantlers do not pay sales and income taxes, which results in a loss of state revenue.
“Unlicensed dismantling is a ‘sleeper’ environmental justice, economic, and public health issue. The ongoing environmental and public health damage to our communities called for urgent action from the state,” declared Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “I was proud to author AB 1858 and I congratulate the DMV and all involved agencies for launching this crucial campaign,” he continued.
The DMV Strike Team is collaborating with representatives from 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), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to investigate the occurrences of unlicensed and unregulated vehicle dismantling. As of November 1st of this year, the DMV Strike Team has executed 6 operations statewide, issued 115 citations, and opened 202 cases in several cities including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Stockton, and Chula Vista.
Greg Pirnik, the president for the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association, states that “the licensed automobile dismantler community is encouraged by DMV’s progress with the Strike Team and are confident the effort will help small businesses, protect jobs, increase worker safety and improve environmental protection by addressing the very serious and growing problem of unlicensed, unregulated, and underground automobile dismantling.”
“Unlicensed vehicle dismantlers operate in the underground economy and do not comply with licensing requirements,” DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said. “These individuals ignore environmental regulatory requirements, insurance and tax obligations, and workplace safety requirements. Vehicle fluids can seep and contaminate ground water and defective parts can be sold to unsuspecting people, creating a potential public safety hazard.”
DMV’s investigators will continue to identify and cite unlicensed vehicle dismantlers, as well as check for compliance with state law and environmental regulations. The DMV also is unveiling a poster and webpage to educate Californians on the impact of unlicensed vehicle dismantling.
Anyone who suspects a person or business may be dismantling vehicles without a proper license or permit is encouraged to report it to the DMV by completing the online complaint form.
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is Chair of the California State Assembly’s Committee on Communications & Conveyance and is a member of both the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.
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