Ask the DMV: Dad wants to show the love with personalized license plates

By: George Valverde, California Department of Motor Vehicles
-A +A
Q: I just bought a car for my daughter’s 16th birthday and would like to purchase personalized license plate with a heart symbol to read “Love Dad.” How do I go about purchasing a personalized license plate, or is there a way for me to check to see if the one I want already exists? A: By visiting the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ website, and clicking on the Personalized Plates tab under Online Services, you’ll be able to browse the DMV’s selection of personalized and special interest license plates. In a separate window, you will also have the ability to see what your specialized configuration will look like or if it already exists. However, please note that the heart symbol can only be added to the “Have a heart, be a star, help our kids” special interest license plate. Q: I just received my new plates in the mail. The combination is a little strange and I think it’s a little embarrassing. Do I have a choice when it comes to standard plates? Can I get new ones? A: Yes you can. You can file to get substitute plates on the DMV website. Click the Publications tab, and then click Vehicle Registration Brochures, and finally How to Obtain Duplicate or Substitute License Plates and Stickers. Fill out the form on this page and bring the necessary listed documents with you to the DMV to get your new standard issue plates. However, please do keep in mind that you will have to surrender your old plates to the DMV at the counter upon receiving your new ones. Save yourself some time and schedule an appointment online at Q: I have a classic car that I plan to spend the next few years rebuilding and it is not currently running. Since I won’t be driving it any time soon, do I still need to register it? If so, what is the procedure? A: No, you do not have to register your vehicle, but you are required to file for a Planned Non-Operational status to be placed on your vehicle. Non-operational means that the vehicle will not be driven, towed, stored, or parked on public roads or highways for the entire registration year. Your renewal notice has a section designated for you to check that indicates you want the non-operational status marked on your vehicle’s record. The Planned Non-Operation (PNO) fee must be sent to DMV with the bottom portion of the renewal notice on which you have checked the Planned Non-Operation box. If you are eligible to renew your registration online, you can file for your PNO and pay using the same information at Click Vehicle Registration Renewal and follow the quick and easy steps, and remember to check the Planned Non-Operational box. George Valverde is the director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Do you have questions about general driving related requirements like registration or insurance? Are you unclear about laws and restrictions related to driving? The California DMV has answers at And now, you can submit any DMV-related questions at