Vehicle Code 10802 VC - Tampering With a Vehicle Identification (VIN)

Have you received a citation for a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation and you’re wondering just what it’s about, and how you even got it? Consider this your informational hub on all you should know. The topics below include:

What is Vehicle Code 10802 VC?

Let’s start with the legal, California legislative definition first, shall we? This reads: “Any person who knowingly alters, counterfeits, defaces, destroys, disguises, falsifies, forges, obliterates, or removes vehicle identification numbers, with the intent to misrepresent the identity or prevent the identification of motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts, for the purpose of sale, transfer, import, or export…”

If you want to strip away all of the legal detail, this states that you cannot adapt or change a vehicle identification number (VIN) for the specific purpose, in the case of citation, of selling it to someone else. The VIN is a legal and formally designed ID for your vehicle specifically, like a barcode. So, modifying it when selling it requires express and written consent from the manufacturer and the DMV to make it official. Not to mention the fact that sales must be legal, too, of course! But that’s another matter…

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 10802 VC?

Feeling a little confused at what it actually means to receive a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation specifically? No fear. The best way to understand it is through an example! Our fictional California resident, Pete, will demonstrate a few examples of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation.

Pete is sick of driving his car, so he decides to sell it to come up with the cash to put a deposit on a brand new one. To make his old car more appealing, he changes a few numbers on the VIN and uses that to successfully sell the car for a higher profit. Since he’s disguised/altered/falsified the VIN specifically to sell it to someone else who doesn’t know the difference, he’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation.

Similarly, he’s looking to sell his car to someone that he knows, but he actually stole this car from someone else. Since a simple VIN search would show that when the friend took a look, he intentionally destroys the VIN and then gives his friend a new VIN that is made up and/or based on a “clean” car (ie: one that hasn’t been stolen). In this case, Pete is guilty of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation because he is deliberately preventing the proper identification of the stolen vehicle, specifically related to selling or exporting it to this friend.

Pretty straight-forward, when you think about it. Any time that you deliberately change or “confuse” a VIN to sell it, you are guilty of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation. The key points here, though, are a.) intentional and deliberate tampering, and b.) selling the vehicle. So, there are exceptions!

For example, Pete wants to disguise the look and make of his car so that he can sell it for a higher profit. Perhaps he will replace a few parts and/or gives it a new paint job, etc. He’s still trying to misrepresent his car, sure, to sell it, but since he didn’t modify or adapt its VIN to go along with it, he’s innocent of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation.

Or, Pete is trying to sell his car a few years after he bought it from a friend. Unbeknownst to Pete, his friend has altered the VIN and now that Pete is trying to sell it, it gets discovered and reported. Pete is innocent of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation because his friend is the one that actually did it. This would also be the case if the VIN was destroyed or “erased” from the car.

In another situation, let’s say that Pete’s destroyed or disguised VIN is discovered by a police officer when doing a routine check (for another reason). While modifying or destroying your VIN is a violation (more on that later), he’s innocent of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation because he isn’t intended to sell it.

Lastly, Pete gets in a car accident and decides to try to fix the damage himself. In the process, he accidentally destroys or distorts his VIN. Since the act isn’t intentional, he would be considered innocent of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation.

What can I do about this violation?

Receiving a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation can land you either with a misdemeanor or a felony offense. This depends on the circumstances surrounding your citation and/or your criminal and driving record.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you’ll be expected to pay a fine of $1, 000 maximum, and you could spend up to one year in county jail. Sometimes probation will be used in place of jail time, though it often will have restrictions on it that are related to the court’s recommendations.

If the court decides to apply this as a felony, you could spend anywhere from 1.5-3 years in county jail, though this often will be blended with conditional probation. As well, the fine can be anywhere up to $25, 000.

If you are guilty of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation, the best thing to do would be to plead guilty in court and accept the punishment that is handed out to you. If you are innocent, however, such as qualifying for one of the exceptions listed above, you can have representation to plead your case within the court.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

Receiving a Vehicle Code 10802 violation implies that you are, as you’ve learned intentionally tampering with a VIN to sell it. However, several offenses are very similar that can be added to this violation. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Vehicle Code 10750 VC: This violation means that you are hiding your car’s identity by changing your VIN. The main difference between this one and a Vehicle Code 10802 violation is that the latter is connected to selling your vehicle, whereas this one is just deliberate general tampering.
  • Vehicle Code 10801 VC: This citation relates to owning or operating within a “chop shop”, and is most often linked closely to VIN tampering.
  • Vehicle Code 10803 VC: This violation implies that you are delivering buying, or have in your possession, tampered-with VINs.
  • Vehicle Code 4463 VC: This ticket implies vehicle registration fraud because you’ve intentionally falsified your VIN.

The peace officer who issues your ticket may choose to add any, or all, of these related offenses to your ticket. It depends on how they view your offense and the situation regarding it. As well, these offenses can also all be used in place of a Vehicle Code 10802 violation if the court thinks that they are better suited to your offense.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

No, this ticket is not eligible for traffic school. Eligibility for any accredited traffic school in California, including MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL, is related to the kind of citation that you receive. Eligibility requires your citation to be what’s called a “moving citation”. For example, failing to yield to a pedestrian or an emergency vehicle. Since this kind of citation has nothing to do with your actual driving technique, traffic school isn’t considered to be helpful.

Looking for more information on eligibility, or your citation? Please contact us and we’d be happy to help you out. Or, you can also contact the court that issued your ticket, as they’ll be familiar with your specific case.

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation?

To keep your driving record clean and clear, avoiding a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation citation in the first place is a fantastic goal. When you are looking to be smart and careful, especially with something as serious as trying to sell a VIN-tampered vehicle, here are some tips.

Firstly, never try to change or adjust your VIN. If there is something that seems strange with it (if you inspect it, for instance), you can contact the manufacturer and the DMV to see what the best approach may be. These examples would be related to what to do if you are deliberately trying to sell your vehicle, of course, but they can apply in just general driving as well if you want to be extra cautious!

Next, you’ll want to always be upfront and honest with people when you are selling your vehicle. You know exactly what your vehicle is and what it isn’t. If you are ever tempted to adjust something on your car to bump the price up a bit higher, think again. Realistically, the frustrating and serious legal implications of a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation will never be worth the extra funds.

Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure that all of the parts match your car, if possible, before you sell it, especially if something seems strange. The best line of action, here, is to always have a full understanding of your car and its potential issues or not. If you still sell it you would be charged with the Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation, rather than the new owner. Keep in mind: you can only be charged with a Vehicle Code 10802 VC violation if you are knowingly selling your car with a damaged/changed VIN. If you truly don’t realize that something is off, you can plead innocent of this citation.

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California Vehicle Code Legislation