Thursday, February 28, 2008
Department of Motor Vehicles
Special Plates Unit – M/S 238
Dear R. Breidinger,
Recently I applied for a set of Amateur Radio Operator call sign vehicle license plates. As requested, I included a copy of my current FCC license to operate under the call sign of N6MDA. Last week I noticed that the $21.00 check I had sent along was processed by my bank, and I expected the plates to arrive shortly!
Yesterday, I received a letter from the DMV which included my original application and paperwork and informing me: “Our records are indicating Amateur Radio Plates issued to another party on a currently registered vehicle. You cannot have 2 parties with same call letters. Contact FCC for correct call letters”.
After several calls, I finally talked to a woman named “Linda” in the Special Plates Unit. I thought the plate may still be registered to the person who had my N6MDA call previously, and had let it expire with the FCC back in 2005. She looked up the present owner and the history on the plate. She discovered the previous N6MDA had sold his truck and transferred the N6MDA plates to the new owner, who is not a licensed Amateur Radio Operator.
I asked the women at the DMV how can this happen? She advised me that when a new application for a call sign plate is made, the DMV requests a copy of a valid FCC Amateur Radio Operators license. However, when someone who has let their FCC Amateur Radio Operators license expire goes to renew the Ham plates, or sells their vehicle with the Ham plates on it, the DMV makes no effort to revalidate that this person still has a valid FCC license.
This process now allows people without a valid FCC license to display a Ham call sign on their vehicle. The DMV allowing this practice to occur is a serious matter for the following reasons:
- It defeats the purpose of having Amateur Radio Operator call plates on vehicles to help identify Ham operators who are members of the state of
’s Auxiliary Communications Service, and who have been activated for an emergency. California
- It exposes the legally licensed Amateur Radio Operator, who actually holds the call sign, to the possibility of fines and even imprisonment if the person displaying the unauthorized plates should operate a mobile radio from his vehicle in violation of FCC rules, and another Amateur Radio Operator should report this violation using the call sign to the FCC.
I am requesting the California Department of Motor Vehicle to take the following actions:
- Discontinue the practice of allowing Amateur Radio Operator call sign plates to be transferred along with the sale of a vehicle.
- Put on the vehicle registration / renewal certificate that the plate number listed is that of an Amateur Radio Operator. As you require that upon request of original Ham plates a copy of the FCC license be included, you have the expiration date of such license. Consider the policy, that if a Amateur Radio Operator’s license has expired, then that person must send a copy of their renewed license along with their vehicle renewal.
- That you immediately inform the present owner of the license plates N6MDA that they are not authorized to display these plates, and must take them to the nearest DMV office for exchange.
- That you immediately process my application (enclosed) and send me the N6MDA plates as requested. Please make sure that they are made as required by the FCC with no spaces between the letters and numbers.
- That you consider adding the text: “Amateur Radio Operator” to the license plate for positive identification. This is done for Veterans and Disabled, why not Amateur Radio Operators?
Your prompt action in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
M. Michael D’Amore (N6MDA)
CC: Senator Tom McClintock
State Capitol, Room 3070
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I have an up-date for you and other hams. I received a telephone call from DMV special plates unit in Sacramento last Wednesday (2-6-08) and the technician that was calling asked me if I would like to have my ham plates reissued "without the space" in the call sign. My response to her was, of course, yes. She told me that she would place the order for me and that no follow-up paperwork would be required on my part and I would not be assessed any additional fee for the plates. She then told me that if I had already placed my 2008 registration sticker on the rear incorrectly configured plate (which I had) she would send me a new registration card with a new sticker. I was very impressed by DMV on this one. They recognized the error and then called me to get it corrected all without burdening me with extra paperwork or fees. I hope you and other amateur radio operators will benefit from this information. Please feel free to post either or both of my email messages. And thanks for getting the ball rolling on this issue, I for one appreciate it.
-Steven Gibson, K6KGO
Saturday, February 9, 2008
[Editor’s Note –To say “unpleasant confrontations” have occurred when hams have been stopped by the police, and the police have been unable to find their callsign license plate in the DMV computer is an understatement. Being stopped by the police can turn into a very serious matter. Such stops should be avoided. While to a police officer it is reasonable to stop a car whose plates are not apparently in the DMV computer, the cause of this is DMV computer defaults to putting a space into our callsign license plates. This issue has not been resolved].
Note: This message was inadvertantly delayed at ARRL HQ for approximately 40 hours. We apologize for the error. -- KE3Z ************************************************************ Here's your update on major items of interest to us in the ARRL Southwestern Division... ************************************************************ The California Department of Motor Vehicles has made it official that Amateur Radio callsign license plates will again be issued without spaces in the callsigns. Those who currently have plates with spaces can get them exchanged. Information is on the DMV web-site at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/ham/ham_plate.htm . Amateur Radio's case was made by a number of individuals including a number of individuals who contacted DMV and/or their elected representatives. DMV apparently has several lists of license plate numbers, such as regular automobile, motorcycle, commercial vehicle, and amateur radio. Therefore database computers for callsign plates under the "ham" designation. Several people have reported that certain policemen were unaware of this, and unpleasant confrontations have occurred. People are suggesting fixes for this, such as putting the words "Amateur Radio" on the plates. These suggestions are being politely passed on to DMV. In the meantime, remind any officer stopping you that he must search for ham plates. After initial concern that phone while driving might be misapplied to use of Amateur Radio mobile equipment, DMV's web-site clearly now states that the law, scheduled to begin on July 1, does not apply to two-way radios. See http://www.dmv.ca.gov/cellularphonelaws/
Note: This message was inadvertantly delayed at ARRL HQ for approximately
40 hours. We apologize for the error. -- KE3Z
Here's your update on major items of interest to us in the
ARRL Southwestern Division...
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has made it official that
Amateur Radio callsign license plates will again be issued without
spaces in the callsigns. Those who currently have plates with spaces
can get them exchanged. Information is on the DMV web-site at
Amateur Radio's case was made by a number of individuals including a
number of individuals who contacted DMV and/or their elected
DMV apparently has several lists of license plate numbers, such as
regular automobile, motorcycle, commercial vehicle, and amateur radio.
database computers for callsign plates under the "ham" designation.
Several people have reported that certain policemen were unaware of
this, and unpleasant confrontations have occurred. People are
suggesting fixes for this, such as putting the words "Amateur Radio" on
the plates. These suggestions are being politely passed on to DMV. In
the meantime, remind any officer stopping you that he must search for
After initial concern that
phone while driving might be misapplied to use of Amateur Radio mobile
equipment, DMV's web-site clearly now states that the law, scheduled to
begin on July 1, does not apply to two-way radios. See
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
[Editor’s Note – Andy Oppel is ARRL’s Vice-Director Northern Calif. Bob Vallio is Director].
Andy, I was probably one of the first hams to get space ham plates and the lies from DMV. I immediately though "ARRL has to be told" I sent an email to Bob Vallio W6RGG informing him what was happening and also asked him what should be done to correct this. After two weeks of no response I sent him another email and again no response. As of today I have never received a reply to my emails.
I am a life member of the ARRL and have been a member for about 30 years. I'm very, very disappointed with Mr. Vallio and the entire ARRL Organization for the way they handled the ham space problem. All Mr. Vallio had to do was send me a short email telling me that the ARRL was working on the problem through legal channels and that he would keep California Hams advised of the progress.
Believe me if I was not an ARRL Life Member I would not be a member at all!!
Don Borden NC6A
Schedule Appointment Online
Online Vehicle Registration Renewal
Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator
Online Driver License Renewal
Order Special Interest and Personalized Plates
Online Change of Address
Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
These plates are issued, upon request, to holders of Federal Communication Commission (FCC) amateur radio station licenses. The alpha-numeric series reflects the call letters assigned by the FCC (Vehicle Code §5005 and Revenue and Taxation Code §§10751, 10752).
If you have Amateur Radio (HAM) License Plates that have spaces between the numbers or letters and you would like plates without the spaces follow this link to the application. Complete the application and a Statement of Facts indicating that you wish to retain the old plates until the new plates arrive, at which time you will properly destroy the old plates. Mail both documents to the address on the bottom of the application form. No fees are required.
If you have questions or concerns regarding your Amateur Radio (HAM) license plates, please call Customer Communications at (916) 657-6560
I am away right now. I have received word from DMV and Assemblyman Feuer's office that we ought to check the www.DMV.ca.gov website after 10am in the morning. The message states that DMV will reverse its policy. Supposedly, those of who ordered and paid for callsign license plates from the DMV and instead received plates which have a space in the callsign may exchange them at no charge. Supposedly a procedure will be stated after 10am.
For 2.5 weeks, we have been hearing unconfirmed rumors about this outcome. DMV messages have been inconsistent throughout this process. For the last week, I have been stressing to DMV that they ought to correct a problem they created at no charge to us. A fraction within DMV wanted to charge us for a "change of plate." My arguement was that we need a "correction" at no charge. Until we see confirmation let us not get ahead of ourselves.
I asked a senior DMV official - why they were reversing policy? I was told it was due to the letters and petitions to legislative offices. When this official did not say it was due to lobbying efforts by ARRL, I asked if they had been working with ARRL? I was told no. They were unaware of ARRL.
The fact is, see emails below, ARRL has been critical of and attempted to stop those of us who received these plates from pursuing our legal right to redress. Also see John Ardnt, KG6S's site www.kg6sblog.calsage.com which points out ARRL took no action before the popular campaign forced them too. In order to purse a claim, the complainant must have legal standing; be a direct party. ARRL's standing was not recognized, see Assemblyman Feuer's response to ARRL on www.NoSpaceHamePlates.blogspot
I am away until next week and unable to answer emails. Good luck in checking the DMV site!
Cliff Cheng, Ph.D., WW6CC
Licensed Since 1975
Formerly: WN6JPA, WA6JPA, KI6CM
Life Member - ARRL, QCWA
Bob Vallio to Richard, me
show details Jan 4 (10 days ago)
Here is the original message. While I was searching what I thought was all of my mail, I decided to take a look in my SPAM file, and there it was. I have learned that I must search my SPAM file separately, if I am to find the target word there. Sorry I did not realize that, but that's not how the search is supposed to work. I'll look into that.
Balbiani's response is full of weasel words, and does not address the obvious intent of California Vehicle Code Section 5005 that the license contain the call letters assigned by the FCC as shown on the amateur's license . Neither does his response address the false statement from his office that the spacing was being done to conform to federal requirements.
I'm not sure of the efficacy of your letter writing program, but since you have already chosen to launch it, there's little to be done. Please keep Dick and I advised of further actions you may undertake; preferably before their implementation. Thanks.
73, Bob -- W6RGG
WW6CC, Cliff ChengLoading...
Jan 5 (10 days ago)
WW6CC, Cliff Cheng to Bob, Dick,
show details Jan 5 (10 days ago)
Your email and our telecon last night offers no workable solutions,
just criticism of our grassroots campaign to reverse DMV's foolish
actions. You suggest we try to influence DMV. As I explained last
night this has been done and failed. From DMV's letter to Marvin
Munster, it is clear DMV has dug its heels in. From my years of
experience as a former LA City Commissioner and prior to that an
Advisor to the Calif. Fair Employment and Housing Commissioner and US
EEOC, and the advise I have gotten for political pros our method of
generating as a grassroots campaign to apply pressure from outside
onto DMV by way of petitioning the legislature is the way to go. Dick
has not mentioned his experience of government to me, have you any?
We respectfully ask you to reconsider your position. We welcome your support.
On Thu, 17 Jan 2008 19:59:02 -0800, "Andy Oppel" <email@example.com>
> >Hi Cliff,
> Bill Hillendahl forwarded your note to me. ARRL Pacific Division
> Director Bob Vallio, ARRL Southwestern Division Director Dick Norton,
> and I all ask that you hold off on letters and petitions and give us
> a chance to work this through channels. We have several people (all
> of whom are hams) working different angles on the issue, including an
> attorney who knows California state law, a professional lobbyist in
> Sacramento who is our state government liaison, and some guys in
> Southern California who have connections with the DMV. Our fear is
> that a letter writing or petition campaign at this time could
> undermine the efforts that are already underway.
> I know how frustrating government agencies can be, but one common
> characteristic is that things change slowly. So, it's going to take
> some time to resolve this. And if we decide that letters to
> legislators would help, we will put out a call to do so, and include
> you in that request.
> -- Andy Oppel, N6AJO
> ARRL Pacific Division Vice Director
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I have been following the blog on the "no space ham plates" issue. I received my amateur radio plates yesterday from DMV Headquarters and my configuration was "K6 KGO" as predicted. I called the special plates unit at DMV (916-657-8035) and the technician I spoke with was not aware of the issue. She took down my information and questions and stated that someone would call me back within 3 business days (she stated probably next Monday). I am just wondering what up-to-date information you may have. I haven't attached the plates to my car yet, pending receipt of the phone call promised by DMV. Is DMV providing any relief for the amateur community or is the issue still fluid? If it has been addressed and rectified, what is the next step in the process to get my plates imprinted correctly? Any information you can pass along to me will be greatly appreciated.
-Steven Gibson, K6KGO
28 Signers of the Petition Against a Space in Amateur Radio Callsign License Plates
Bryce Anderson, K6TI
Lonnie Bland, N6RBR
Walter Deutsch, KG6MZU
El Segundo CA
Richard Friedel, KB6OT
Gregory Hillendahl, KE6THC
Paul In, KI6EL
Mario Ibarra, WS6C
Dale Jensen, K6ZTI
Darin Jones, KC6UBP
LA CA 90043
Douglas Junge, K6BKB
Donald Klein, KI6PMS
Caskey Dickson, KV8O
David Larson, AC9AC
Marcelino Martinez, KF6ILX
Ernie Nairne, N6HY
Walt Ordway, K1DFO
Jeff Park, W6LLJ
Van Nuys CA
Chito Pastor, WW6CP
Lee Roberson, K6OXJ
Joe Scholz, W6BTE
Deanna Smitha, W6DWS
Elie Tawil, K4ELE
Robert Taylor, K6VBI
Norman Watters, WG6W
Western Amateur Radio Linking Assn., WA6LA
Jimmy Wunno, KA6WXZ
LA, CA 90065
Ray Wunno, KE6LE
Monday, February 4, 2008
de kb6nqw, Tom Cagan
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2008 3:35 PM
Subject: Monthly Sacramento Valley Section News Summary
.....In California for many years now, our Department of Motor Vehicles has
issued call sign license plates to amateurs holding an unexpired amateur
operator's license. Starting a few years ago, DMV put a space on the license
plate (and on the registration document and in the data base) after the
number in the call sign. My call sign thus would appear as W6 KJ both on the
license plate and on my registration. Since my plates are 12 years old, only
the registration appears that way. The plates are correct. But for people
getting their plates recently, this 'space' issue has been an unnecessary
Another aspect of the problem is if I was stopped by police and the plates
were run against the data base. My registration says W6 KJ, but the plates
don't have a space in the call sign. I would need to tell the officer that
it is an amateur radio plate and to make sure to insert the space or the
data base search might show the plate was not issued. After several SV
members complained about this I began researching the issue. I found online
a letter from the director of the DMV in which he noted he could not correct
the problem. The space had been inserted to differentiate between vanity
plates and amateur plates. This was an arbitrary decision. So I wrote to my
legislators requesting relief and advocated that others in the state do the
same. Two days later, but after many letters had been written before I got
into the act, an Assemblywoman in Lancaster, CA, got the answer from DMV for
which we had all hoped. DMV will remove the space from license plates and
our registrations. Thanks to many who acted on this issue, including our
Division leadership who had been working behind the scenes at 'various'
levels to correct the problem......
73, Ron Murdock, W6KJ, Sacramento Valley Section Manager
ARRL Sacramento Valley Section
Section Manager: Ronald D. Murdock, W6KJ firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, February 2, 2008
I am sorry, I have to disagree with you here. The more letters and phone calls, the better. Nothing is worse than stopping a campaign in the middle of attention getting. This is ridiculous. It is not what my call sign is, it is what the CA-DMV want's it to be. No other state in the
Marvin - W6MJM (or is it W6 MJM)
Friday, February 1, 2008
CALL OFF THE DOGS! - UPDATE Last month EM reported that the California Department of Motor Vehicles, arbitrarily and unannounced, had implemented a policy of inserting a blank space in the middle of some amateur call sign license plates. There was an enormous groundswell of protest. And, we did get their attention, as well as the attention of some members of the California Legislature. While we have no official policy change to report at this time, we have been asked that the letter-writing and telephone-calling campaigns be put "on hold" until the issue has been reviewed by the DMV and some California Legislators. For additional information go to: www.NoSpaceHamPlates.blogspot .com