Vehicle Acts And Codes

The California Vehicle Act of 1923 revised the heavily amended Act of 1914 and provided the framework for future motor vehicle regulations.

The California Vehicle Act of 1923 created what later became the California Highway Patrol by authorizing the chief of the Division of Motor Vehicles to appoint state inspectors and traffic officers to enforce the act.

Other changes made by the California Vehicle Act of 1923 included:

  • Replacing the unpopular horsepower tax, which had been introduced in 1913 as a rating system for fee assessment purposes, with a flat registration fee of $3, plus weight fees for commercial vehicles; and
  • Enacting the original gasoline tax, which was two cents per gallon and earmarked for county and state highway purposes.

In 1929, the Division of Motor Vehicles was transferred to the Department of Public Works. At the same time, the California Highway Patrol was established under the Division of Enforcement.

An independent Department of Motor Vehicles was again established in 1931. DMV retains this status.

The Vehicle Code of California, as the California Vehicle Act came to be known when it was codified in 1935, superseded local and county ordinances.

Frequently, these ordinances caused motorists to be arrested and fined for violation of motoring laws as they crossed county lines.

The new code provided the framework for additions and amendments to California's vehicle laws for more than 20 years. In 1955, the legislature appointed a commission to determine if another codification was necessary. It occurred in 1959.