Thursday, February 28, 2008

DMV Permits Non-Ham to Have Ham Plates

R. Breidinger

Department of Motor Vehicles

Special Plates Unit – M/S 238

2415 1st Ave.

Sacramento, CA 95818

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:

  1. 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 California’s Auxiliary Communications Service, and who have been activated for an emergency.
  1. 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:

  1. Discontinue the practice of allowing Amateur Radio Operator call sign plates to be transferred along with the sale of a vehicle.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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

Sacramento, CA 95814

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