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Where all those extra vehicle fees in California actually go

All of those DMV fees amount to about $8.2 billion in 2016-17 and get divided up a number of difference agencies and governments.

Californians pay a number of different taxes and fees in order to operate their vehicles, but only a percentage of certain fees have been designated for roads and infrastructure.

Even if the gas tax is excluded, there are still a number of fees associated with owning and operating a vehicle.These range from vehicle emission fees to vehicle registration fees. However, not all of these fees, despite being based on the vehicle, go toward roads.

Cumulatively, Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees actually total about $8.2 billion per year. The bulk of that money gets split up among different agencies and governments.

DMV Fees

Transportation improvement fee: $25 to $175

These are fees used for the repair of infrastructure and road maintenance. The fees affect vehicle registration, transfers, and renewals.

Vehicle weight fees: $8 to $360 for vehicles with no more than 2 axles

This is a fee based on the weight of a commercial vehicle. It’s a requirement to register some pickups and trucks in California. The fee is required by law for the registration of any commercial motor vehicle that operates with “unladen weight.”

Vehicle registration fees: $58 (including $3 for alternative fuel/technology registration fee)

These are fees paid every year in order to operate a motor vehicle in the state. The actual payment is comprised of fees relevant to the vehicle, like a registration fee, vehicle license fee, weight fee, special plate fee, county/district fees, and owner responsibility fees.

Vehicle Emission fees: $20 for smog abatement fee, $8.25 for state certificate

With some exceptions for diesel power vehicles, smog checks are required for all gasoline-powered vehicles. Vehicles that are six years old or newer are not required to participate; instead, these vehicles pay an annual smog abatement fee for the first six years in place of being required to pass a smog check.

There are two fees that related to the smog check. If the vehicle passes, there is an $8.25 certificate fee. If the vehicle is younger than six years old, than a $20 smog abatement fee must be paid.

Where does the money go?

DMV related fees:

There was an estimated total of $8.2 billion in DMV fees collected in the 2016-17 year. Compared to a fee map for the 2014 DMV fees, local government, the DMV, and the General Fund saw a greater percentage of funds allocated to them in the 2016-17 year.

Local government: 43.6%

CHP: 26.3%

DMV: 12.6%

State Highways: 12.7%

Air Resources Board: 1.6%

General Fund: 1.6%

Environmental Agencies: 0.5%

Department of Justice: 0.3%

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