False Statements to The DMV or CHP Explained

If you used a false or fake name at the DMV, you may have violated Vehicle Code 20 vc1. Below our criminal defense attorneys at Aizman Law Firm explain the elements, defenses and potential penalties for this crime.

Defining a False Statement to the DMV or CHP

If you knowingly made a false statement, or knowingly concealed any material fact in a document that you filed with the DMV, you may be found guilty of this offense2.

→ If convicted, you face being charged with a misdemeanor3 punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine4.

How Does the Prosecutor Prove False Statements to DMV or CHP?

To prove that you are guilty of this offense, the prosecutor has to prove the following facts or elements5:

  • The defendant used a false/fictitious name;

The defendant, who is under 18 years old, applied for a driver’s license using a false name, so that he can present the license at clubs and liquor stores as his.  He also falsely stated in the application that he is over the age of 18 years old.

The defendant can be charged with the offense, because he unlawfully used a false name and knowingly submitted a statement about his age that he knew was false.

  • The defendant knowingly concealed any material fact in any document filed with the DMV or CHP. OR
  • The defendant knowingly made a false statement6;

See example above, except, instead of making the false statement that he has never been charged with a sex offense, the driver tries to conceal the information by submitting the application without ever answering the question.  In this situation, there may be not enough evidence to convict the defendant of the offense, because the prosecutor will have to present evidence that is sufficient to show that the defendant knowingly concealed the information.

This would be difficult to prove beyond a “reasonable doubt,” because people commonly forget to fill out a portion of an application.

Legal Defenses to Charges of Violating Vehicle Code 20 VC

You made a mistake when filling out the paperwork

People make mistakes.  If you, for example accidentally misspelled your name, or used a different spelling of your name, because it is spelled differently in another language, or maybe your foreign passport lists a different date of birth and you always get confused by which one to use, then you may be able to use that as a defense.

A mistake is a viable defense to this charge, because it shows that you had no knowledge of the falsity of the information and/or no intent to defraud.

Example of this defense

A driver submitted to the DMV paperwork that falsely indicated that she was still the owner of a vehicle that in reality she already sold.  If she mistakenly did so, she will be able to use the defense of “mistake” to show that she did not intend to defraud the DMV.

What Are The Penalties, Punishment and Sentencing Guidelines For Vehicle Coide 20 VC?

Penalties for vehicle code 20 vc include the following:

FineUp to $1,000
County JailUp to 6 months

Can I Expunge A Conviction For False Statements to DMV or CHP?

A defendant can have his/her charge of False Statements to DMV or CHP expunged if certain conditions are fulfilled.

erasing conviction

Pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4, California’s Expungement Law, a defendant is entitled to have his/her misdemeanor or felony offense expunged if the defendant:

  • Has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation,


  • is not currently, charged with a criminal offense,


  • On probation for a criminal offense,


  • Serving a sentence for a criminal offense.

However, a defendant does not qualify for an expungement in a case where he/she was sent to California state prison.  Furthermore, certain offenses cannot be expunged under penal code 1203.4, including serious sex offenses committed against children.

Please feel free to contact the Aizman Law Firm if you would like to get more information about whether you qualify for an expungement of your criminal record.

Related Offenses and Additional Penalties

Perjury:  Under Penal Code 118 pc – California’s Perjury Law a defendant is guilty of perjury when he/she intentionally provides false information that he/she knows to be false while are under oath.

If convicted of perjury, a defendant may face a felony charge, punishable by up to 2, 3, or 4 years in the California state prison, in addition to a fine of up to $10,000.

Example: In the example above, wherein the applicant who is under 18 years old falsely states in his application for a driver’s license that he is over the age of 18, if he signs the application under penalty of perjury, he may alternatively be guilty of perjury under section 118 of the Penal Code, which is a greater offense.

Offering False Evidence:Under Penal Code 132 pc California’s “Offering False Evidence” Law the offense entails knowingly presenting false written evidence as if it were true or real in any legal proceeding and/or upon any inquiry authorized by law.  If convicted of this offense, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 3 years in the California state prison.

Example: Offering to the DMV a fake pink slip that you paid someone to create to prove ownership of a vehicle that does not lawfully belong to you.

Forgery or Falsification of Car Registration Stickers: Under Vehicle Code Section 4463 VC California’s” forgery or falsification of car registration stickers” law – it is unlawful to forge, alter, or falsify vehicle registration stickers, license, or license plate.

Example: Presenting a fake driver’s license can cause you to violate this offense.

If convicted of this offense, a defendant may face either a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on prior criminal history or the circumstances surrounding the offense.  If charged with a misdemeanor, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 1 year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  If charged with a felony, a defendant may face a sentence of up to 16 months, 2 or 3 years in the California state prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

California’s False Identification to a Police Officer Laws Penal Code 148.9 PC – This Law prohibits presenting a fake identity to  a police officer.

Providing False Information to a Police Officer – Vehicle Code 31 vc

How We Can Help

If you have been charged under Vehicle Code 20 and would like a confidential consultation you can call us at (818) 351-9555.

Request A Free Consultation 818-351-9555 


  1. Vehicle Code 20 vc – It is unlawful to use a false or fictitious name, or to knowingly make any false statement or knowingly conceal any material fact in any document filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of the California Highway Patrol. []
  2. People v. Molina (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 221. []
  3. California Vehicle Code 40000.5  – A violation of any of the following provisions shall constitute a misdemeanor, and not an infraction:Section 20, relating to false statements.Section 27, relating to impersonating a member of the California Highway Patrol.Section 31, relating to giving false information.Paragraph (3) of subdivision (a), or subdivision (b), or both, of Section 221, relating to proper evidence of clearance for dismantling. []
  4. California Penal Code 19  – Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both. []
  5. Vehicle Code 20 VC. []
  6. The word “knowingly” imports only a knowledge that the facts exist which bring the act or omission within the provisions of this code. It does not require any knowledge of the unlawfulness of such act or omission.  In this case, knowingly means that you knew that the statement or fact is false and offered it anyway.  It does not mean that you knew that the act of offering the false statement or fact is unlawful. []

1 comment

Norman José Tijerino

I have an old dui where the police lied and I can prove they lied for example they wrote on the police report that I had blood shot eyes a strong smell of alcohol also instead of a breath aliyzer I was forced to take a blood sample instead of a breathalyzer I had zero alcohol in me I was railroaded by the longbeach police department . I had meth in my system so they still charged me with a dui .. it’s a long story n was in 2007 but I wasn’t fui or at fault and i have an instance of false testimony by a police officer also they railroad me I hired a lawyer but fired him cuz he was too hotshot for a dui case my public defender was asking me for advice when I told him. Of a contradiction in testimony I ended up accepting a plea bargain but I was falsely accused and innocent it’s just hard to know who to turn to when ur falsely imprisined . Is there anything you can do? I would like to sue them have there falsification of evidence and wv other violations they did because I fell like I’m a victim n that dui made it impossible for me to get a good job . I made a left hand turn out of a parking lot at 2 am and 4 lb police cars were speeding down the street no lights or sirens on the lead car panicked swerve into me then away then crashed into 3 parked vehicles the cop cars behind him were pissed I was an innocent bystander and they blamed it on me that is a quick recap of wat happend there’s a lot more details to go over , they wanted to give me a year I’m jail w a felony dui after the bullshit lawyer I hired n bullshitt public defender i had I accepted 3 months in jail and misdimesnor because i Didnt have good enuff council to win against lying police i caught the only cop to come to the arbitration or Pretrail in a lie .. please tell me u might be able to have justice be served for me

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