Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 46.2. Motor Vehicles
11/18/2019

Article 5. Dealer's License Plates.

§ 46.2-1545.1. Watercraft trailer dealers and watercraft trailers.

For the purposes of this article:

"Dealer" and "trailer dealer" includes watercraft trailer dealers.

"Trailer" includes watercraft trailers.

2015, c. 615.

§ 46.2-1545.2. Exclusion of all-terrain vehicles and off-road motorcycles.

Nothing in this article shall apply to all-terrain vehicles or off-road motorcycles.

2015, c. 615.

§ 46.2-1546. Registration of dealers; fees.

Every manufacturer, distributor, or dealer, before he commences to operate vehicles in his inventory for sale or resale, shall apply to the Commissioner for a dealer's certificate of vehicle registration and license plates. For the purposes of this article, a vehicle is in inventory when it is owned by or assigned to a dealer and is offered and available for sale or resale. All dealer's certificates of vehicle registration and license plates issued under this section may, at the discretion of the Commissioner, be placed in a system of staggered issue to distribute the work of issuing vehicle registration certificates and license plates as uniformly as practicable throughout the year. Dealerships which sold fewer than twenty-five vehicles during the last twelve months of the preceding license year shall be eligible to receive no more than two dealer's license plates; dealerships which sold at least twenty-five but fewer than fifty vehicles during the last twelve months of the preceding license year shall be eligible to receive no more than four dealer's license plates. However, dealerships which sold fifty or more vehicles during their current license year may apply for additional license plates not to exceed four times the number of licensed salespersons employed by that dealership. Dealerships which sold fifty or more vehicles during the last twelve months of the preceding license year shall be eligible to receive a number of dealer's license plates not to exceed four times the number of licensed salespersons employed by that dealership. A new applicant for a dealership shall be eligible to receive a number of dealer's license plates not to exceed four times the number of licensed salespersons employed by that dealership. For the purposes of this article, a salesperson or employee shall be considered to be employed only if he (i) works for the dealership at least twenty-five hours each week on a regular basis and (ii) is compensated for this work. All salespersons' or employees' employment records shall be retained in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-1529. A salesperson shall not be considered employed, within the meaning of this section, if he is an independent contractor as defined by the United States Internal Revenue Code. The fee for the issuance of dealer's license plates shall be determined by the Board, but not more than $30 per license plate; however, the fee for the first two dealer's plates shall not be less than twenty-four dollars and the fee for additional dealer's license plates shall not be less than ten dollars and forty cents each. For the first two dealer's license plates issued by the Department to a dealer, twenty-four dollars shall be deposited into the Transportation Trust Fund established pursuant to § 33.2-1524 and the remainder shall be deposited into the Motor Vehicle Dealer Fund. For each additional dealer's license plate issued to a dealer, ten dollars and forty cents shall be deposited into the Transportation Trust Fund and the remainder shall be deposited into the Motor Vehicle Dealer Fund.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:4; 1989, c. 727; 1990, c. 197; 1991, c. 712; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1547. License under this chapter prerequisite to receiving dealer's license plates; insurance required; Commissioner may revoke plates.

No motor vehicle manufacturer, distributor, or dealer, unless licensed under this chapter, shall be entitled to receive or maintain any dealer's license plates. It shall be unlawful to use or permit the use of any dealer's license plates for which there is no automobile liability insurance coverage or a certificate of self-insurance as defined in § 46.2-368 on any motor vehicle. No dealer's license plates shall be issued unless the dealer certifies to the Department that there is automobile liability insurance coverage or a certificate of self-insurance with respect to each dealer's license plate to be issued. Such automobile liability insurance or a certificate of self-insurance shall be maintained as to each dealer's license plate for so long as the registration for the dealer's license plate remains valid without regard to whether the plate is actually being used on a vehicle. If insurance or a certificate of self-insurance is not so maintained, the dealer's license plate shall be surrendered to the Department. The Commissioner shall revoke any dealer's license plate as to which there is no insurance or a certificate of self-insurance. The Commissioner may also revoke any dealer's license plate that has been used in any way not authorized by the provisions of this title.

The requirements relating to insurance in this article shall not apply to trailers or watercraft trailers.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:5; 1989, c. 727; 1990, c. 954; 1995, cc. 767, 816; 2015, c. 615.

§ 46.2-1548. Transferable license plates.

In lieu of registering each vehicle of a type described in this section, a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer owning and operating any motor vehicle on any highway may obtain a license plate bearing the legend provided in § 46.2-1549 from the Department, on application therefor on the prescribed form and on payment of the fees required by law. These license plates shall be attached to each vehicle as required by subsection A of § 46.2-711. Each plate shall bear a distinctive number, and the name of the Commonwealth, which may be abbreviated, together with the word "dealer" or a distinguishing symbol indicating that the plate is issued to a manufacturer, distributor, or dealer. Month and year decals indicating the date of expiration shall be affixed to each license plate. Any license plates so issued may, during the calendar year or years for which they have been issued, be transferred from one motor vehicle to another, used or operated by the manufacturer, distributor, or dealer, who shall keep a written record of the motor vehicle on which the dealer's license plates are used. This record shall be in a format approved by the Commissioner and shall be open to inspection by any law-enforcement officer or any officer or employee of the Department.

Display of a transferable manufacturer's, distributor's, or dealer's license plate or plates on a motor vehicle shall subject the vehicle to the requirements of §§ 46.2-1038 and 46.2-1056.

All manufacturer's, distributor's, and dealer's license plates shall be issued for a period of twelve consecutive months except, at the discretion of the Commissioner, the periods may be adjusted as may be necessary to distribute the registrations as equally as practicable on a monthly basis. The expiration date shall be the last day of the twelfth month of validity or the last day of the designated month. Every license plate shall be renewed annually on application by the owner and by payment of fees required by law, such renewal to take effect on the first day of the succeeding month.

The Commissioner may offer an optional multi-year license plate registration to manufacturers, distributors, and dealers licensed pursuant to this chapter provided that he has chosen to offer optional multi-year licensing to such persons pursuant to § 46.2-1521. When such option is offered and chosen by the licensee, all annual and twelve-month fees due at the time of registration shall be multiplied by the number of years or fraction thereof the licensee will be licensed pursuant to § 46.2-1521.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:6; 1989, c. 727; 1990, c. 197; 1991, c. 712; 1995, cc. 767, 816; 2008, cc. 304, 753.

§ 46.2-1549. Dealer's, manufacturer's, and distributor's license plates to distinguish between various types of dealers.

The Commissioner shall provide for the issuance of appropriate franchised or independent dealer's license plates. License plates for manufacturers shall bear the appropriate legend.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:7; 1989, c. 727; 1991, c. 712; 1995, cc. 767, 816; 2008, cc. 304, 753.

§ 46.2-1549.1. Dealer's promotional license plates.

In addition to any other license plate authorized by this article, the Commissioner may issue permanent or temporary dealer's promotional license plates to a dealer for use on vehicles held for sale or resale in the dealer's inventory. The design of these license plates shall be at the discretion of the Commissioner. These license plates shall be for use as authorized by the Commissioner. These plates shall be issued under the following conditions:

1. For each permanent promotional license plate issued or renewed, the Commissioner shall charge an annual fee of $100. Issuance of license plates pursuant to this subdivision shall be subject to the insurance requirement contained in § 46.2-1547. The Commissioner shall limit the validity of any license plate issued under this subdivision to no more than thirty consecutive days. Upon written request from the dealership, the Commissioner may consider an extended use of a license plate issued under this subdivision. The Commissioner's authorization for use of any license plate issued under this subdivision shall be kept in the vehicle on which the license plate is displayed until expiration of the authorization. These license plates shall be included in the number of dealer's license plates authorized under § 46.2-1546 and not in addition thereto.

2. The Commissioner shall limit the validity of each temporary promotional license plate to no more than fourteen consecutive days. For each request, the Commissioner shall charge a fee of twenty-five dollars for the first plate and two dollars for each additional plate. Issuance of license plates pursuant to this subdivision shall be subject to the insurance requirement contained in § 46.2-1547. The Commissioner's authorization for use of any license plate issued under this subdivision shall be kept in the vehicle on which the license plate is displayed until expiration of the authorization. License plates issued under this subdivision shall not be included in the number of dealer's license plates authorized under § 46.2-1546.

1991, c. 712; 1994, 1st Sp. Sess., c. 6.

§ 46.2-1550. Use of dealer's and manufacturer's license plates, generally.

A. Dealer's license plates may be used on vehicles in the inventory of licensed motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors, and dealers in the Commonwealth when operated on the highways of Virginia by dealers or dealer-operators, their spouses, or employees of manufacturers, distributors, and dealers as permitted in this article, which shall include business, personal, and family purposes. Except as otherwise explicitly permitted in this article, it shall be unlawful for any dealer to cause or permit: (i) use of dealer's license plates on vehicles other than those held in inventory for sale or resale; (ii) dealer's license plates to be lent, leased, rented, or placed at the disposal of any persons other than those permitted by this article to use dealer's license plates; and (iii) use of dealer's license plates on any vehicle of a type for which their use is not authorized by this article. Manufacturer's license plates may be used on company vehicles as defined in § 46.2-602.2 operated on the highways of Virginia as provided in § 46.2-602.2 and as permitted by this article. It shall be unlawful for any dealer to cause or permit dealer's license plates to be used on:

1. Motor vehicles such as tow trucks, wrecking cranes, or other service motor vehicles;

2. Vehicles used to deliver or transport (i) other vehicles; (ii) portions of vehicles; (iii) vehicle components, parts, or accessories; or (iv) fuel;

3. Courtesy vehicles; or

4. Vehicles used in conjunction with any other business.

B. A dealer may permit his license plates to be used in the operation of a motor vehicle:

1. By any person whom the dealer reasonably believes to be a bona fide prospective purchaser who is either accompanied by a licensed salesperson or has the written permission of the dealer;

2. When the plates are being used by a customer on a vehicle owned by the dealer in whose repair shop the customer's vehicle is being repaired; or

3. By a person authorized by the dealer on a vehicle that is being driven to or from (i) a point of sale, (ii) an auction, (iii) a repair facility for the purpose of mechanical repairs, painting, or installation of parts or accessories, or (iv) a dealer exchange.

The dealer shall issue to the prospective purchaser, customer whose vehicle is being repaired, or other person authorized under subdivision 3 of this subsection, a certificate on forms provided by the Department, a copy of which shall be retained by the dealer and open at all times to the inspection of the Commissioner or any of the officers or agents of the Department. The certificate shall be in the immediate possession of the person operating or authorized to operate the vehicle. The certificate shall entitle a person to operate with dealer's license plates under (i) subdivision 1 or 2 of this subsection for a specific period of no more than five days or (ii) subdivision 3 of this subsection for no more than twenty-four hours. No more than two certificates may be issued by a dealer to the same person under subdivision 1 or 2 of this subsection for successive periods.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:8; 1989, c. 727; 1991, c. 712; 1993, c. 504; 1995, cc. 767, 816; 1998, c. 827; 2008, cc. 304, 753.

§ 46.2-1550.1. Use of dealer's license plates and temporary transport plates on certain vehicles.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-1550, dealer's license plates or dealer's temporary transport plates may be used on vehicles being transported (i) from a motor vehicle auction or other point of purchase or sale, (ii) between properties owned or controlled by the same dealership, or (iii) for repairs, painting, or installation of parts or accessories. This section shall also apply to return trips by such vehicles.

1991, c. 712.

§ 46.2-1550.2. Issuance and use of temporary transport plates, generally.

The Department, subject to the limitations and conditions set forth in this section and the insurance requirements contained in § 46.2-1547, may provide for the issuance of temporary transport plates designed by the Department to any dealer licensed under this chapter who applies for at least 10 plates and who encloses with his application a fee of $1.50 for each plate. The application shall be made on a form prescribed and furnished by the Department. Temporary transport plates may be used for those purposes outlined in § 46.2-1550.1. Every dealer who has applied for temporary transport plates shall maintain a record of (i) all temporary transport plates delivered to him, (ii) all temporary transport plates issued by him, and (iii) any other information pertaining to the receipt or the issuance of temporary transport plates which may be required by the Department.

Every dealer who issues temporary transport plates shall insert clearly and indelibly on the face of the temporary transport plates the name of the issuing dealer, the date of issuance and expiration, and the make and identification number of the vehicle for which issued.

The dealer shall issue to the operator of the specified vehicle a certificate on forms provided by the Department, a copy of which shall be retained by the dealer and open at all times to the inspection of the Commissioner or any of the officers or agents of the Department. The certificate shall be in the immediate possession of the person operating or authorized to operate the vehicle. The certificate shall entitle the person to operate with the dealer's temporary transport plate for a period of no more than five days. Temporary transport plates may also be used by the dealer to demonstrate types of vehicles taken in trade but for which he has not been issued dealer's license plates.

1991, c. 712; 2012, cc. 215, 222.

§ 46.2-1550.3. Alternative print-on-demand program for issuance of temporary transport license plates to dealers and vehicle owners.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-1550.2, the Department may develop and implement procedures and requirements necessary for delivery of temporary transport license plates to dealers and issuance of temporary transport license plates by dealers to vehicle owners, using print-on-demand technology.

B. In the event the Department implements a print-on-demand temporary license plate program pursuant to this section, all dealers licensed on or after the effective date of the program shall be required to purchase and issue only print-on-demand temporary license plates.

C. The Commissioner shall not impose a requirement relating to the minimum number of sets of temporary plates that must be purchased by a dealer pursuant to a print-on-demand temporary license plate program implemented under this section.

D. Except as otherwise provided in this section, temporary license plates delivered and issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to all conditions and limitations set forth in this article.

2011, c. 786.

§ 46.2-1551. Use of dealer's license plates or temporary transport plates on certain vehicles traveling from one establishment to another for purpose of having special equipment installed.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-1550, dealer's license plates or temporary transport plates may be used on tractor trucks or trucks for the purpose of delivering these vehicles to another establishment for the purpose of having a fifth wheel, body, or any special permanently mounted equipment installed on the vehicles, and for the purpose of returning the vehicle to the dealer whose plates are attached to the tractor truck or truck whether or not the title to the vehicle has been retained by the dealer, and no other license, permit, warrant, exemption card, or classification plate from any other agency of the Commonwealth shall be required under these circumstances. No other statute or regulation in conflict with the provisions of this section shall be applicable to the extent of the conflict. This section shall also apply to trips into the Commonwealth by a vehicle owned and operated outside the Commonwealth to an establishment within the Commonwealth and to the return trip of that vehicle from the Commonwealth to another state, provided the operator of the vehicle carries on his person when so operating a bill of sale for the fifth wheel, body, or special equipment.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:9; 1989, c. 727; 1991, c. 712; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1552. Use of dealer's license plates on newly purchased vehicles.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-1550, any dealer who sells and delivers to a purchaser a motor vehicle at a time when the main offices of the Department, its branch offices, or offices of its local agents, are not open for business and the purchaser is therefore unable to register the vehicle, may permit the purchaser to use, for a period not exceeding five days, on the newly purchased vehicle, license plates which have been issued to the dealer, provided that, at the time of the purchase, the dealer executes in duplicate, on forms provided by the Commissioner, a certificate bearing the date of issuance, the name and address of the purchaser, the identification number of the vehicle, the registration number to be used temporarily on the vehicle, the name of the state in which the vehicle is to be registered, and whatever other information may be required by the Commissioner. The original of the certificate and a bona fide bill of sale shall be delivered to the purchaser and shall be in the possession of the purchaser at all times when operating the vehicle under dealer plates. One copy of the certificate shall be retained by the dealer, filed by him, and shall be subject to inspection at any time by the Department's agents. If the vehicle is to be titled and registered in the Commonwealth, application for title and registration shall be made by the purchaser on the first business day following issuance of the certificate and a copy of the certificate shall accompany the applications.

License plates temporarily used by the purchaser shall be returned to the dealer by the purchaser not later than five days after the issuance of the certificate.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:10; 1989, c. 727; 1991, c. 712.

§ 46.2-1552.1. Use of dealer's license plates or temporary transport plates for demonstrating trucks or tractor trucks.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, dealer's license plates issued under § 46.2-1548 and temporary transport plates issued under § 46.2-1550.2 may be used on trucks or tractor trucks in the inventory of licensed motor vehicle dealers for the purpose of demonstrating trucks or tractor trucks in the inventory of a licensed dealer by a bona fide prospective purchaser. Any such demonstration vehicle may be loaded in a manner consistent with the prospective purchaser's usual commercial activities. Such use of dealer's license plates on demonstration trucks or tractor trucks in a prospective purchaser's commercial activities shall be for not more than three days or 750 miles, whichever comes first, and shall not thereafter be used on the same truck or tractor truck by the same prospective purchaser for a period of sixty days. The dealer shall issue to the prospective purchaser, or to his authorized agent, a certificate on forms provided by the Department, a copy of which shall be retained by the dealer and open at all times to the inspection of the Commissioner or any of the officers or agents of the Department. The certificate shall be in the immediate possession of the person operating or authorized to operate the truck or tractor truck. The certificate shall entitle the person to operate with the dealer's license plate or temporary transport plate for a specific period of no more than three days. This certificate shall be in lieu of any other registration, permit, and motor fuel road tax identification otherwise required by law.

1993, c. 503; 1997, c. 283.

§ 46.2-1553. Operation without license plate prohibited.

No manufacturer or distributor of or dealer in motor vehicles shall cause or permit any motor vehicle owned by him to be operated or moved on a public highway without there being displayed on the motor vehicle a license plate or plates issued to him, either under § 46.2-711 or under § 46.2-1548, except as otherwise authorized in §§ 46.2-733, 46.2-1554 and 46.2-1555.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:11; 1989, c. 727; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1554. Movement by manufacturer to place of shipment or delivery.

Any manufacturer of motor vehicles may operate or move or cause to be moved or operated on the highways for a distance of no more than twenty-five miles motor vehicles from the factory where manufactured or assembled to a railway depot, vessel, or place of shipment or delivery, without registering them and without license plates attached thereto, under a written permit first obtained from the local law-enforcement authorities having jurisdiction over the highways and on displaying in plain sight on each motor vehicle a placard bearing the name and address of the manufacturer authorizing or directing the movement.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:12; 1989, c. 727; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1555. Movement by dealers to salesrooms.

Any dealer in motor vehicles may operate or move, or cause to be operated or moved, any motor vehicle on the highways for a distance of no more than twenty-five miles from a vessel, railway depot, warehouse, or any place of shipment or from a factory where manufactured or assembled to a salesroom, warehouse, or place of shipment or transshipment without registering them and without license plates attached thereto, under a written permit first obtained from the local law-enforcement authorities having jurisdiction over the highways and on displaying in plain sight on each motor vehicle a placard bearing the name and address of the dealer authorizing or directing the movement.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:13; 1989, c. 727; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1556. Operation under foreign dealer's license.

It shall be unlawful, except as provided for by reciprocal agreement, for any person to operate a motor vehicle or for the owner thereof to permit a motor vehicle to be operated in the Commonwealth on a foreign dealer's license, unless the operation of the motor vehicle on the license is specifically authorized by the Commissioner.

1988, c. 865, § 46.1-550.5:14; 1989, c. 727; 1995, cc. 767, 816.

§ 46.2-1557. Use of certain foreign-registered motor vehicles in driver education programs.

Dealer's license plates may be displayed on motor vehicles used by Virginia school systems in connection with driver education programs approved by the State Board of Education. In the event of such use of a motor vehicle or vehicles by a school system, any dealer, his employees and agents furnishing the motor vehicle or vehicles shall be immune from liability in any suit, claim, action, or cause of action, including but not limited to, actions or claims for injury to persons or property arising out of such use. Nothing in this section shall authorize the sale of any motor vehicle or vehicles so used in such driver education program as a demonstrator vehicle.

Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 46.2-1500 and 46.2-1556, school divisions either (i) bordering on Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, or West Virginia, or (ii) located in Accomack or Northampton County may use motor vehicles bearing foreign motor vehicle dealer's license plates in connection with their driver education programs.

1988, c. 865, §§ 46.1-550.5:8, 46.1-550.5:15; 1989, c. 727.

§ 46.2-1557.1. Removal of plates by Department of Motor Vehicles investigators; cancellation; reissuance.

If any Department of Motor Vehicles investigator finds that a vehicle bearing license plates or temporary transport plates issued under this article is being operated in a manner inconsistent with (i) the requirements of this article or (ii) the Commissioner's authorization provided for in this article, the Department of Motor Vehicles investigator may remove the license plate for cancellation. Once a license plate has been cancelled, the dealership may reapply for the license plate. Reissuance of the license plate shall be subject to the approval of the Commissioner and the payment of the fee prescribed for issuance of license plates under this article.

1991, c. 712.

§ 46.2-1557.2. Penalties for violations of article; service of summons.

Notwithstanding § 46.2-1507, any person violating any of the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Any summons issued for any violation of any provision of this article relating to use or misuse of dealer's license plates shall be served upon the dealership to whom the plates were issued or to the person expressly permitting the unlawful use, or upon the operator of the motor vehicle if the plates are used contrary to the use authorized by the certificate issued pursuant to § 46.2-1550.

1993, c. 504.

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