Impact of State and Local Orders on California Car Dealers and Repair Facilities

Arent Fox
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Arent Fox

Recent state and local executive orders limit or suspend many operations of California dealers and repair facilities. This alert summarizes the effects and penalties of recent orders, which are changing daily. All misdemeanors and felonies listed below can be applied to any individual, including employees.

Our national list of state and local orders can be found here.

California’s statewide Executive Order requires residents stay home except as necessary to maintain sectors of critical infrastructure outlined by CISA and the State Public Health Officer. Exemptions include “automotive repair and maintenance facilities,” “commercial retail stores” supplying essential sectors such as auto supplies and repair, and “employees supporting or enabling transportation functions.” It is unclear whether sales are allowed and exempt business operations remain subject to social distancing guidelines. Violations of this order are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 (and up to 180 days imprisonment) under Government Code section 8865.

Several counties in Northern California have enacted orders that exempt “auto supply,” repair businesses and related facilities, including Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Monterey County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Sonoma County, and Yolo County . Violations of these county orders are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of $50 - $1,000 (and up to 90 days imprisonment) under Health and Safety Code section 120295. The joint city and county order of San Francisco also exempts “auto supply,” repair businesses, and related facilities, but cautions residents of steeper punishments for violations involving threats or violence against peace officers, which are felonies punishable by fines of up to $10,000 (and up to three years imprisonment) under California Penal Code section 69. San Benito County exempts only auto repair businesses and county guidance states that violations are misdemeanors. In central California, the City of Fresno’s order exempts auto sales and repair businesses and does not specify any punishment. However, recent Fresno city guidance exempts only repair businesses.

In Southern California, Los Angeles County specifically exempts car dealerships and repair businesses but Los Angeles City exempts only repair businesses. Violations of these orders are misdemeanors punishable by fines of up to $1,000, up to 90 days imprisonment for county violations, and up to 180 days imprisonment for city violations, under Health and Safety Code section 120295 and Los Angeles Administrative Code sections 8.77 and 8.78 respectively. Orange County and San Bernardino County’s orders permit most non-food retailers to remain open subject to social distancing guidelines. San Diego city and San Diego County similarly restrict but do not suspend the operations of most non-food retailers, but the city’s website references the state order. As with Los Angeles city and county, these Southern California orders specify that violations are misdemeanors punishable by fines of up to $1,000 (and up to 90 or 180 days imprisonment) under Government Code section 8865; Palm Springs Municipal Code section 2.20.100 (maximum fine $500); and Health and Safety Code section 120295.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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