Vehicle Code 10803 VC – Buying or Possessing Vehicles with Tampered VINs

If you’ve recently received a citation for a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation, you may find yourself curious about what it means, how you received it, and what you should do about it. Below, you’ll learn about all of the most important details, including:

What is Vehicle Code 10803 VC?

First thing’s first, let’s go ahead and start with the official legal definition of a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation, taken directly from the California legislation: “Any person who buys with the intent to resell, disposes of, sells, or transfers, more than one motor vehicle or parts from more than one motor vehicle, with the knowledge that the vehicle identification numbers of the motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts have been altered, counterfeited, defaced, destroyed, disguised, falsified, forged, obliterated, or removed for the purpose of misrepresenting the identity or preventing the identification of the motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts”

While the text is intricate and tricky to follow at times, the meaning of it is pretty simple and straightforward. It’s saying that buying, or having in your possession vehicles that have tampered with Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) on any of their parts or the vehicle itself, is a crime.

What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 10803 VC?

If you’re looking at some more specific information with this citation, in particular, it’s best explained and exemplified through our made-up California driver, Lars. He’ll show us a few examples of a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation, and even help us understand a few of the possible, legal exceptions to receiving this citation.

In the first, most straight-forward example, Lars is looking to sell his car to make some quick cash, but he knows that he can’t get much for this particular vehicle due to its age. To sweeten the deal, he buys a few parts for his car, stolen from other cars, and switches them out in order to bump up the prices. Since the VINs don’t match, this is a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation.

In a second example, Lars has a car that is made up of a compilation of parts from other vehicles. He’s done this deliberately but hasn’t got the proper permissions from the manufacturer or the DMV to do this. Since he simply has a “hodge-podge” of vehicle parts without the documentation required to make them legal, he’s earned himself a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation for his efforts.

Similarly, Lars wants to sell parts of his mechanic buddies, so he buys up a bunch of them from shops or junkyards around the county and then re-sells them at a higher mark-up to his friends. Since he, again, doesn’t have the proper paperwork and he is deliberately buying parts with different VINs specifically for the purposes of reselling them for cash, he’s guilty of a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation.

It seems a little murky when it comes to separating out the violations from the legal, allowable things, but it all comes down to paperwork and permission. This is where the exceptions come in.

If Lars is doing everything “by the book”, these violations don’t apply. For instance, he tries to sell his car with new parts that he’s bought and installed in his car, and bumps up the price. Since he’s bought the parts legally and has all of the paperwork from the manufacturer to back it all up, as well as approval and registration from the DMV, there is no problem to be had, because all of the information is there to help document, well, everything.

Another exception to this would be if you bought or possessed only one vehicle with a tampered VIN. This is sort of like a “free pass” when it comes to tampering. A Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation is often used when it comes to the concept of stopping resale and money exchanges deliberately for VINs. So, if you only have one vehicle with a tampered VIN, it can sometimes be overlooked. However, if you have more than one, then a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation would apply.

Similarly, if your intent was not to dispose of the vehicle or its part, or to sell the vehicle, then a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation wouldn’t apply. This violation is all about buying, selling, and having on-hand these VIN details specifically to manipulate them for making money.

Lastly, there’s the exception about knowledge. If you genuinely didn’t realize that your VIN had been tampered with, or you purchased it from someone who didn’t tell you that there were issues with the VIN, you can’t be charged with a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation because you genuinely didn’t know.

What can I do about this violation?

If you’ve received this violation, you’ll need to appear in court. This particular offense is a “wobbler” one, meaning that it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Which one is used will often depend on your driving record, any other kind of criminal behavior, and the circumstance around the citation.

If it’s charged as a misdemeanor, you’ll be expected to spend up to one year in county jail and pay a fine of up to $1, 000. This is standard for either possessing or having just the one tampered with VIN.

If you have more than one, and it’s charged as a felony (this is common, since it’s understood that this is a more serious violation), then it gets split into two separate categories for charging:

  • Possessing the VIN-tampered vehicles
  • Buying the VIN-tampered vehicles

In cases of possession, you’ll spend anywhere from 1.5-3 years in county jail, and be hit with a fine of up to $30, 000. Both the time in jail and the amount of the fine will depend on the specific charges relating to your ticket.

If you are charged with buying VIN-tampered vehicles, you’d expect to spend 2-6 years in county jail and can be charged anywhere up to $60, 000. The scale and the fine, again, depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

If you are guilty of any of these citations as charged, the best approach is, of course, to plead as such and then accept the punishment as it is handed out to you. If you are innocent, it’s a good idea to have legal counsel to represent you so that you can clear your name and record of the citation, as well as avoid the fee and the jail time!

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

There are quite a few offenses that can be connected to receiving a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation. Some of the most common and applied connections for a citation include:

  • Vehicle Code 10750 VC: This is a more general, related offense, implying that you simply have a vehicle with a tampered VIN specific to obscure its identity.
  • Vehicle Code 10801 VC: This violation relates to owning or operating a “chop shop”, which is often connected to the world of VIN tampering.
  • Vehicle Code 10802 VC: Another similar option, it implies that you’ve deliberately tampered with the VIN to make a sale.
  • Vehicle Code 4463 VC: This is considered vehicle registration fraud, which comes from changing the VIN on the vehicle that is officially registered with the DMV.

Depending on the citation incident as well as the professional judgment of both the peace officer and the court of law, any or all of these violations can be added to your ticket. Or, they can be used in place of a Vehicle Code 10803 VC citation. It often comes down to what the professionals think to be best for the most accuracy.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

Some tickets are designed to be masked from your record by attending an accredited traffic school, such as MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL. Unfortunately, this ticket is not eligible for traffic school because it’s considered a fraud offense rather than anything to do with an actual traffic citation, also known as a “moving citation”. For example, running a red light or going the wrong way down a one-way street would be a moving citation. In these cases, traffic school can help the cited driver learn the correct way to drive, and it makes a positive change to their driving record. Since this citation has nothing to do with the driving technique itself, it’s considered ineligible.

If you’re looking for more information on eligibility or your citation, in particular, please contact us and we’d be happy to help you understand what you’re dealing with in more detail. As well, you can also contact the court responsible for issuing your ticket, as they’d be most familiar with your specific, personal case.

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation?

From all angles and all points of view, receiving a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation is always a big deal. It is going to cem with a serious, heavy punishment and it’s definitely something that you’ll want to avoid as much as possible. With that in mind, here are some tips to steer you far and clear from this violation!

Most of it is going to come around, you guessed it, documentation. When you have a vehicle and/or parts that have VINs that don’t match the original registration records, or they’re illegible, you’re going to want to reach out to both the manufacturers and the DMV to see what the process is, and the documentation involved, to make this change. Remember that the goal here is to get permissions in place as legal protection so that you don’t ever get hit with a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation. The rule of thumb here is that it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to checking with the DMV.

Another detail is that, if you are buying parts from someone to put into your car, be careful where those parts come from. Sure, you can say that you didn’t know that the VINs didn’t match or that they were obscured, but this is often not a legitimate excuse that is held up in a court of law. Make sure that you know where everything is coming from and that it has the paper trail needed.

Similarly, when you are buying a new car, you always want to get it checked out by a professional mechanic that you know and trust. They will know those common problems to look for in the car itself, but also the tricky legal stuff such as scratched-off VINs and more. If something doesn’t match and there’s no paperwork clearly documenting it, there’s a good chance that something shady is going on. Be careful!

Getting a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation is all about trying to skirt around the law to make some cash, in all honesty. It’s an easy one to avoid as long as you always keep your mind focused on documentation. Always remember: receiving a Vehicle Code 10803 VC violation means that you are knowingly and intentionally possessing or selling tampered with VINs on vehicles and/or parts. If you genuinely do not know this, or you are not doing anything illegal intentionally, you are innocent of the charges!



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