Because of uncertainty surrounding the California DMV fee collection rates, legislation passed in May created a new DMV 30 day renewal "Grace Period." This grace period is in effect for registration renewals through December 2011. The grace period takes the place of the renewal notices California drivers used to receive 60 days ahead of registration.
For the period of this new DMV renewal regime, it’s important to know that billing notices issued by the DMV have not been adjusted to reflect the 30-day grace period. Instead, a special insert has been included with the billing notice that indicates penalties will not be imposed until the 31st day after the expiration date.
The DMV registration renewal is confusing because the registration statement still lists the penalties under the standard 60-day notice system. The non-grace period overdue penalties increase from a 10% penalty when a payment is one to ten days late to a 60% penalty when the fee is 31 days late.
If you receive your DMV registration renewal in the months between July and December and pay within 30 days, the standard penalities will not apply.
However, some vehicle owners have reported that they were incorrectly assessed a standard 60% penalty on their vehicle license fee (VLF) on the first day after the fee was due even though they should have received grace period waivers.
The DMV is encouraging vehicle owners to use renewal by mail or its internet renewal program to renew vehicle registration. These alternative renewal methods automatically waive late fees for the 30-day grace period, but will assess a penalty of 60% of the VLF on the 31st day. The DMV will refund any over-payments to car owners who were unaware of the 30-day grace period if they included penalty fees in their mailed payments. However, it may take a month for the refund to be processed.
DMV officials also claim that law enforcement is aware of the registration renewal grace period and will not cite vehicles until the first day of the second month after the vehicle registration expires. For example: A vehicle owner with a registration expiration date of July 20th would not be cited for delinquent registration prior to September 1, 2011.
Visit http://dmv.ca.gov/online/vrir/vr_top2.htm [AR]