California Laws and Incentives for Vehicle Owner/Driver
The list below contains summaries of all California laws and incentives related to Vehicle Owner/Driver.
Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Incentives
The California Energy Commission (CEC) administers the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (Program) to provide financial incentives for businesses, vehicle and technology manufacturers, workforce training partners, fleet owners, consumers, and academic institutions with the goal of developing and deploying alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies. The CEC must prepare and adopt an annual Investment Plan for the Program to establish funding priorities and opportunities that reflect program goals and to describe how program funding will be used to complement other public and private investments. Funded projects include:
- Commercial alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) demonstrations and deployment;
- Alternative and renewable fuel production;
- Research and development of alternative and renewable fuels and innovative technologies;
- AFV manufacturing;
- Workforce training; and
- Public education, outreach, and promotion.
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane Exemption
Compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen, electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) meeting specified California and federal emissions standards and affixed with a California Department of Motor Vehicles Clean Air Vehicle sticker may use HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle. White Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to an unlimited number of qualifying CNG, hydrogen, and electric vehicles. Green Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available for the first 40,000 applicants that purchase or lease a qualified PHEV. Both stickers will expire January 1, 2015. These vehicles are also exempt from toll charges imposed on HOT lanes, unless prohibited by federal law. For more information, see the California Air Resources Board Carpool Lane Use Stickers website. (Reference Assembly Bill 2405, 2012, and California Vehicle Code 5205.5 and 21655.9)
Emissions Reductions Grants
The Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program provides incentives to cover the incremental cost of purchasing engines and equipment that are cleaner than required by law. Eligible projects include heavy-duty fleet modernization, light-duty vehicle replacements and retrofits, idle reduction technology, and off-road vehicle and equipment purchases. The Carl Moyer Program provides funds for significant near-term reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions, reactive organic gases, and particulate matter emissions. Funding is available through January 1, 2015. Contact local air districts for more information about grant funding availability and distribution. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 44280, 44229, and 44299))
Point of Contact
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (866) 6DIESEL (634-3735)
Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Reduction Grants
The Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program (Program) provides funding for projects that reduce emissions from freight movement in the state, including heavy-duty truck replacement, repower, or retrofit; and truck stop electrification infrastructure development. Contact the Program or local air districts for more information about funding availability and distribution. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 39625-39627.5)
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Incentive - Bay Area
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) PEV Home Charger Deployment Program (Program) provides incentives for up to 2,750 residents who purchase a new plug-in electric vehicle and install Level 2 EVSE from qualifying vendors. Incentive amounts vary and the funds are administered through BAAQMD partner vendors on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, see the Program website.
Vehicle Emissions Reduction Grants - Sacramento
The Sacramento Emergency Clean Air and Transportation Program provides grants to offset the costs of projects that reduce on-road emissions within the Sacramento federal ozone nonattainment area. Eligible projects include upgrades and exchanges of heavy-duty diesel vehicles with 2002 or older engines. Other advanced technology implementation projects may also qualify. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 44299.50-44299.55)
Point of Contact
Associate Air Quality Engineer
Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District
Phone: (916) 874-4892
Fax: (916) 874-4899
Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Home Fueling Infrastructure Incentive - South Coast
South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) residents may be eligible for up to $2,000 toward the purchase and installation of a qualified Phill NGV home fueling appliance. SCAQMD and the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee provide funding for the program, which will continue until funds have been exhausted. For more information, refer to the SCAQMD website.
Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Rebate - San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) administers the Drive Clean! Rebate Program (Program), which provides rebates for the purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles, including qualified natural gas and plug-in electric vehicles. The program offers rebates of up to $3,000, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis for residents and businesses located in the SJVAPCD that purchase a qualified vehicle on or after March 15, 2012. For a list of eligible vehicles and other requirements, refer to the Program website.
Low Emission Vehicle Incentives and Technical Training - San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) administers the REMOVE II program, which provides incentives for cost-effective projects that result in motor vehicle emissions reductions and long-term impacts on air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. As of October 2012, REMOVE II is providing funding for vanpool agencies that reduce or replace single occupant vehicle commutes in the San Joaquin Valley. To participate, vanpool agencies must submit an application to SJVAPCD and sign a contract to become a Vanpool Voucher Incentive Program partner. REMOVE II also includes an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Mechanic Training Component that provides incentives to educate personnel on the mechanics, operation safety, and maintenance of AFVs, fueling stations, and tools involved in the implementation of alternative fuel technologies.
Propane Vehicle Rebates - Western Propane Gas Association (WPGA)
The WPGA offers rebates of $1,000 for the purchase of a new propane vehicle or the conversion of an existing vehicle to operate on propane. In addition, WPGA offers rebates for 20% of the purchase or conversion price of a new propane commercial mower, up to $2,500. Rebates are available through August 31, 2013, or when program funds are exhausted. For more information, refer to the WPGA New Propane Vehicle and Commercial Mower Rebate Programs website.
Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Rebate - LADWP
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) provides rebates of up to $2,000 to residential customers who purchase or lease a new electric vehicle and install Level 2 EVSE with a separate time-of-use meter at their home. Customers living in apartment buildings or condominiums may also qualify for the rebate so long as they have received permission from the property owner and/or homeowner association. Rebates are available to the first 1,000 approved customers. The program will expire on June 30, 2013, when the program goals are met, or when the funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first. For program guidelines and application materials, see the Charger Installation Rebate website.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Insurance Discount
Farmers Insurance provides a discount of up to 10% on all major insurance coverage for HEV and AFV owners. To qualify, the automobile must be designed to use a dedicated alternative fuel as defined in the Energy Policy Act of 1992, or a HEV. A complete vehicle identification number is required to validate vehicle eligibility.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Reduction - SMUD
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) offers a reduced time-of-use rate option to residential customers who own a licensed passenger PEV. For more information, see the SMUD PEV Rates website.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Reduction - LADWP
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) offers a $0.025 per kilowatt discount for electricity used to charge PEVs during off-peak times. The discount is only applicable to the first 500 kilowatt-hours used per month. Proof of vehicle registration is required. LADWP also provides guidance on PEV charging infrastructure to help customers determine applications for PEVs in their fleet operations, PEV maintenance services, and training. For more information, see the LADWP Electric Vehicle Incentives website.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Reduction - SCE
Southern California Edison (SCE) offers a discounted rate to customers for electricity used to charge PEVs. Two rate schedules are available for PEV charging during on- and off-peak hours. For more information, see the SCE Electric Vehicle Residential Rates website.
Clean Vehicle Electricity and Natural Gas Rate Reduction - PG&E
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) offers a discounted Experimental Residential Time-of-Use rate for electricity used for plug-in electric vehicle charging and natural gas vehicle (NGV) home fueling appliances. Special rates are also available for natural gas that residential customers compress using home fueling appliances. For more information, see the PG&E EV Rate Options and NGV Rates websites.
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) and Natural Gas Infrastructure Charging Rate Reduction - SDG&E
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) offers lower rates to customers for electricity used to charge PEVs. SDG&E's PEV Time-of-Use rates are available in two variations: EV-TOU-2 bills home and vehicle electricity use on a single meter; and EV-TOU bills vehicle electricity use separately, requiring the installation of a second meter. Lower rates are also available to customers who own a natural gas vehicle and use a qualified compressed natural gas fueling appliance at home. For more information about PEV Time-of-Use rates, see the SDG&E EV Rates website.
Natural Gas Rate Reduction - SoCalGas
Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) offers natural gas at discounted rates to customers fueling natural gas vehicles (NGVs). Schedule G-NGVR, Natural Gas Service for Home Refueling of Motor Vehicles, is available to residential customers; G-NGV, Natural Gas Service for Motor Vehicles, is available to commercial customers. For more information, see the SoCalGas NGVs website.
Laws and Regulations
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Parking Incentive Programs
The California Department of General Services (DGS) and California Department of Transportation (DOT) must develop and implement AFV parking incentive programs in public parking facilities operated by DGS with 50 or more parking spaces and park-and-ride lots owned and operated by DOT. The incentives must provide meaningful and tangible benefits to drivers, such as preferential spaces, reduced fees, and fueling infrastructure. Fueling infrastructure built at park-and-ride lots is not subject to restricted use by those using bicycles, public transit, or ridesharing. (Reference Assembly Bill 2583, 2012; California Public Resources Code 25722.9; and California Vehicle Code 22518)
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Parking Regulation
An individual may not stop, stand, or park a motor vehicle, or otherwise block access to parking, in a stall or space designated for the exclusive purpose of charging a PEV unless the vehicle displays a valid state-issued zero emission vehicle (ZEV) decal and is connected for electric charging purposes. For the ZEV decal application, see the California Department of Motor Vehicles ZEV Parking Decal Application website. (Reference California Vehicle Code 22511)
Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Feasibility Evaluation
To facilitate a reliable and steady funding mechanism for maintaining and improving surface transportation infrastructure, the California Legislature requests the President and Congress to consider and enact legislation to conduct a feasibility study of the collection process for a transportation revenue source based on vehicle miles traveled. (Reference Assembly Joint Resolution 5, 2011)
Alternative Fuel and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Retrofit Regulations
Converting a vehicle to operate on an alternative fuel in lieu of the original gasoline or diesel fuel is prohibited unless the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has evaluated and certified the retrofit system. ARB will issue certification to the manufacturer of the system in the form of an Executive Order once the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with the emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. A manufacturer is defined as a person or company who manufactures or assembles an alternative fuel retrofit system for sale in California; this definition does not include individuals wishing to convert vehicles for personal use. Individuals interested in converting their vehicles to operate on an alternative fuel must ensure that the alternative fuel retrofit systems used for their vehicles have been ARB certified. For more information, see the ARB Alternative Fuel Retrofit System website.
A hybrid electric vehicle that is Model Year 2000 or newer and is a passenger car, light-duty truck, or medium-duty vehicle may be converted to incorporate off-vehicle charging capability if the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. ARB issues certification to the manufacturer and the vehicle must meet California emissions standards for the model year of the original vehicle.
Alternative Fuel Tax
The excise tax imposed on compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG or propane) used to operate a vehicle can be paid through an annual flat rate sticker tax based on the following vehicle weights:
|All passenger cars and other vehicles 4,000 pounds (lbs.) or less||$36|
|More than 4,000 lbs. but less than 8,001 lbs.||$72|
|More than 8,000 lbs. but less than 12,001 lbs.||$120|
|12,001 lbs. or more||$168|
Alternatively, owners and operators may pay an excise tax on CNG of $0.07 per 100 cubic feet measured at standard pressure and temperature, $0.06 per gallon of LNG, and $0.06 per gallon of propane. The excise tax on ethanol and methanol fuel blends containing up to 15% gasoline or diesel fuel is half of the current tax on gasoline and diesel.
(Reference California Revenue and Taxation Code 8651-8651.8)
Heavy-Duty Truck Idle Reduction Requirements
A driver of a diesel-fueled vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds may not idle the vehicle's primary engine for more than five minutes at any location, and is not allowed to operate a diesel-fueled auxiliary power system (APS) on the vehicle for more than five minutes when located within 100 feet of a restricted area. Exceptions apply in certain situations and for certain vehicles. Any internal combustion APS used in California must comply with applicable state off-road and/or federal non-road emissions standards and test procedures for its fuel type and power category to ensure that emissions do not exceed the emissions of a truck engine operating at idle.
Model Year 2008 and newer heavy-duty diesel engines must be equipped with non-programmable engine shutdown systems that automatically shut down the engine after five minutes of idling or optionally meet a stringent nitrogen oxide idling emissions standard. A heavy-duty diesel engine certified for optional idling emissions standards must have a "certified clean idle" label, issued by the engine manufacturer, affixed permanently on the driver's side hood of the truck. Similarly, off-road diesel engine APSs fitted with a proper, verified level 3 diesel particulate filter (DPF) must have a "verified clean APS" label, issued by the APS manufacturer, affixed permanently on the driver's side hood of the truck.
Operators of trucks equipped with sleeper berths are required to shut down the engine manually when idling more than five minutes at any location within California and are subject to fines for violation. The California Department of Motor Vehicles will not register, renew, or transfer registration for any vehicle operator who has received a violation until the violation is cleared.
(Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 2485)
Point of Contact
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (626) 575-6696
Idle Reduction Requirement at Schools
A school bus driver must turn off the engine upon stopping at a school, or within 100 feet of a school, and may not turn the engine on more than 30 seconds before departing from the location. When the bus is at least 100 feet away from a school, the driver may not idle the engine for more than five consecutive minutes, or for periods totaling more than five minutes during any one hour period. Transit and commercial vehicle operators may not idle for more than five consecutive minutes at each stop within 100 feet of a school, or for periods totaling more than five minutes during any one hour period. Exemptions apply for necessary idling while stopped in traffic, at traffic signals, and at the direction of law enforcement personnel. (Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 2480)
Heavy-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations
Box-type trailers that are at least 53 feet long and the heavy-duty tractors that pull these trailers must be equipped with fuel-efficient tires and aerodynamic trailer devices that improve fuel economy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Tractors and trailers subject to the regulation must either use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay certified tractors and trailers or retrofit existing equipment with SmartWay verified technologies. Vehicle owners must comply with these regulations when operating on California highways regardless of where the vehicles are registered. Exemptions apply for some local- and short-haul tractors and trailers. The compliance schedule depends on the type and age of the tractor or trailer. (Reference California Code of Regulations Title 17, Section 95300-95311)
Point of Contact
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (866) 6DIESEL (634-3735)
Low-Speed Electric Vehicle (EV) Access to Roadways
A low-speed EV, also known as a neighborhood electric vehicle, is defined as a motor vehicle with four wheels, a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,000 pounds or less, and capable of achieving a minimum speed of 20 miles per hour (mph) and a maximum speed of 25 mph. Low-speed EVs are subject to all provisions applicable to a motor vehicle and must meet federal safety standards established in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. Drivers of low-speed EVs must comply with all provisions applicable to drivers of motor vehicles. The operator of a low-speed EV may not operate the vehicle on any roadway with a posted speed limit greater than 35 mph except to cross a roadway at an intersection. (Reference California Vehicle Code 385.5 and 21250-21266)
Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Access to Roadways
The cities of Lincoln and Rocklin in Placer County established an NEV Transportation Plan (Plan) for low-speed vehicles that may be used on state highways under certain conditions. As part of the Plan, the cities prepared a report to the California Legislature that includes a description of the plan and an evaluation of the effectiveness of the plan.
Additionally, discussions are encouraged between the legislature, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and the California Highway Patrol regarding the adoption of a new classification for licensing motorists who use NEVs. Additional jurisdictions that may establish NEV transportation plans are as follows:
|Jurisdiction||Report Deadline||NEV Transportation Plan Deadline|
|Amador County, City of Jackson, City of Sutter Creek, and Amador City||January 1, 2015||January 1, 2016|
|City of Fresno||November 1, 2014||January 1, 2016|
|Riverside County||January 1, 2016||January 1, 2017|
|Orange County (Ranch Plan Planned Community)||November 1, 2015||January 1, 2017|
(Reference California Streets and Highways Code 1962, 1963-1963.8, 1964-1964.8, 1965-1965.7, 1966-1966.7)