Vehicle Code 13004 VC - Unlawful Use of a Counterfit ID Card in California

If you’ve recently been cited with a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation and you’re wondering why that is, you’re in the right spot.  Below, we’ll go into detail on what you need to know about this particular traffic violation.  Topics covered include:

What is Vehicle Code 13004 CVC?

It’s best to start from the formal definition and work from there to help you understand just what you are looking at.  This lengthy definition comes from the California Vehicle Code law and reads:


“To display or cause or permit to be displayed or have in his possession any canceled, fictitious, fraudulently altered, or fraudulently obtained identification card.

(b) To lend his identification card to any other person or knowingly permit the use thereof by another.

(c) To display or represent any identification card not issued to him as being his card.

(d) To permit any unlawful use of an identification card issued to him.

(e) To do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required by this article.

(f) To photograph, photostat, duplicate, or in any way reproduce any identification card or facsimile thereof in such a manner that it could be mistaken for a valid identification card, or to display or have in his possession any such photograph, photostat, duplicate, reproduction, or facsimile unless authorized by the provisions of this code.

(g) To alter any identification card in any manner not authorized by this code.”

Are you lost in the legal jargon?  What it means, as its base minimum, is that you can’t use a modified or fake ID card when asked for the real one by government officials or anyone else that is requesting to see it (such as a peace officer).  It also means that you can’t lend your valid ID card to anyone else to knowingly use for their own purposes. 


What does it mean to have violated Vehicle Code 13004 CVC?

Since this one can have quite a few variations on it, as well as important exceptions to understand, let’s create a fictional California resident named Paula to put them into action properly for us.

Our first example finds Paula having a fake/false ID card made to buy alcohol or gain access to bars, etc., that requires her to be of a certain age.  If she is caught using this falsified ID card, she’d be guilty of a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation because she is knowingly using a falsified ID card.

In another situation, Paula lends her valid card to her roommate, Nessie, so that she can use it to gain access to places she can’t normally or purchase alcohol.  Paula would be cited with a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation because she has willingly given her license to Nessie, knowing that Nessie was going to use it to do these unlawful things.

In a similar situation, Paula asks to borrow Nessie’s ID card because she doesn’t want to use hers for whatever reason.  Both IDs would be valid in this case.  Even though it’s Nessie who gave her the ID to use, Paula is still guilty (along with Nessie) of a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation because she is knowingly using her ID.

In another situation, Paula photocopies her ID and makes it look as though the photocopy is the real one.  Whether she uses it herself or she gives it to someone else; she is going to receive a violation for this, too, because it would be considered a counterfeit card since it’s a duplicate.

Lastly, Paula decides to add highlights to her hair in her ID photo because they look better or because they match her current hairstyle.  Whether she does this physically or through computer editing, both are considered a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation because she is modifying a government-issued ID card.

As you might be able to imagine, there are quite a few exceptions to this particular citation, which are going to be very important to know about and understand!  

In the first situation, let’s say that Paula didn’t know that her ID was fake.  While this sounds unlikely, of course, let’s just pretend that it is, in fact, the case.  If she was caught using it and genuinely didn’t know that it was fake, she’d be innocent.

In the second situation, Nessie takes Paula’s ID card without her knowledge to go out with her friends and get into those unlawful situations.  Since Paula didn’t willingly give it to her and certainly didn’t know how it would be used, she’d be innocent of the charge.

In the third situation, let’s say that Paula accidentally grabbed Nessie’s license by mistake.  Or, perhaps Nessie pulled a prank on her and swopped their licenses without Paula’s knowledge.  Since she isn’t a knowing participant in these swops or accidents, she’d be innocent of a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation.

In the fourth example, let’s say that Nessie steals Paula’s ID, photocopies it, and then uses it for her own means.  Since Paula didn’t allow for her ID to be photocopied or used, she’d be innocent of any charge.  

Lastly, let’s pretend that Nessie scribbled all over Paula’s ID card during a fight one day.  If Paula doesn’t notice the modifications to her ID and presents it not knowing it’s been modified, she’d be innocent of this charge!

What can I do about this violation?

If you receive a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation, it is considered a misdemeanor.  If found guilty, the charge would be a county jail stay for up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1 000 plus any administration fees that are added to the charge.  In some cases, probation is used instead of jail time.

If you know that you are correctly charged with this violation, the best thing to do is plead guilty and accept the punishment given to you by the court without complaint.  This minimizes friction and any extra possible charges if you try, and fail, to fight your case.

If you are innocent of the violation and believe that you qualify for one of the exceptions listed above, we encourage you to seek counsel and argue your case in the courtroom, as is your right.

Other possible Vehicle Code violation connections

There are other violations that can be connected to this particular one, depending on the circumstances and judgment of the peace officer who gives you the citation.  These include:

  • Vehicle Code 13004.1 VC: Very closely connected, this one implies that you are manufacturing or selling the falsified ID cards for use.
  • Vehicle Code 31 VC: This offense implies that you are knowingly giving false information to the peace officer, such as a falsified or modified license or ID card.

This is not all, however.  There are quite a few penal code violations that will be connected to this particular offense, but we will stick with just the Vehicle Code violations for this particular article.  The peace officer and/or court may add these violations to your list, depending on the situation surrounding the Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation itself.  They also may use these in place of that violation, if they’re deemed a better match.

Is this ticket eligible for traffic school?

Some tickets can be masked from your record if you agree to attend an accredited school, such as MM TRAFFIC SCHOOL.  Since this is considered a paperwork violation, however, this citation is not eligible for traffic school.  The eligibility is based on the fact that attending classes will help you to address your driving skill.  Since this has to do with an understanding of the law, and not the driving technique, it’s not a valid option.

Not sure what to think?  Need more information to help you understand just what the Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation means for your driving record?  Just want more information on what to expect?  We’re more than happy to help!  Please contact us and we’ll be happy to fill you in on all of the details that we can.  If you are searching for a more case-based approach, you can also consider reaching out to the court that issued your citation.

How can I avoid a citation for a Vehicle Code 13004 CVC violation?

As with practically any kind of violation out there, the best thing that you can do to avoid a citation on your driving record is to know how to avoid receiving this kind of violation!  Since this is more about the technical use of your ID and less about technique, there are plenty of things that you can do to help yourself.  We’ve gone over them below.

First and foremost, understand that any kind of government-issued ID cannot be changed even a little bit.  As you read about in the examples above, even just adding in highlights is a violation.  When you get your license and/or government ID, consider it untouchable.  In the case of something happening to your ID (for example, Nessie scratching up Paula’s and making a mess of it), you should contact the agent who gave you your ID (the DMV, typically).  They’ll tell you if you need to have a new one made, and any other steps that you can take.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that you are being pressured into giving your ID to someone to use illegally, then the best thing to do is get yourself out of it.  The same goes for being pressured to take someone else’s ID for the same reason.  No matter how strong the peer pressure may be, the repercussions are never going to be worth your time.  Get yourself out of that situation and the people who put you there.

Lastly, you’ll want to be very careful to ensure that you always have your formal ID on your when you head out.  That is, you may want to use a photocopy of your license or ID because you want to keep it safe.  While this is a great idea, the photocopy itself is illegal!  License and government-issued IDs are intended to be durable so that you can carry them around without harm.  Even though your thought is innocent enough, you are still knowingly giving over a photocopy of an ID, which does count.  Remember: Receiving a Vehicle Code 13004 VC violation is about knowingly presenting an altered, false, or wrong ID to a legal entity.  If you don’t know that it’s any of those things, you are innocent of this charge!



San Diego Ticket Fighter