BAR Expands Disciplinary Measures for Unlicensed Activity

In support of its consumer protection mandate, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) investigates violations of the Automotive Repair Act and related laws and regulations. Accordingly, BAR investigates and takes action to protect consumers from the harms of unlicensed automotive repair and Smog Check activity. To ensure timely and effective discipline, BAR has collaborated with the Office of the Attorney General to expand disciplinary options for unlicensed activity.

Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 145 declares that unlicensed activity is a threat to the health, welfare, and safety of the public and that enforcement of such activity should be swift, effective, appropriate, and create a strong incentive to obtain licensure. When BAR representatives identify unlicensed activity, a citation and order of abatement is issued on the spot directing the unlicensed entity to immediately cease all unlicensed activity. If the unlicensed conduct or activity continues, a citation and order of abatement with a monetary fine of up to $5,000 may be issued and served by mail. If the unlicensed conduct or activity continues, the case is referred to the local District Attorney (DA) requesting criminal prosecution and/or civil enforcement pursuant to BPC sections 9884.6 and 17200, and any other applicable statutes.

Recognizing the caseload challenges faced by many DAs along with the need for BAR to deliver expeditious enforcement of unlicensed activity, BAR worked with the Office of the Attorney General (AG) to identify alternative disciplinary procedures. BPC sections 125.5 and 9884.14 stipulate that BAR may petition the Superior Court for an injunction or other appropriate order to curtail unlicensed activity or conduct that is in violation of the Automotive Repair Act. In addition to or in lieu of a DA filing and when appropriate, BAR may now submit a request to the AG’s Office to pursue a civil injunction. If the unlicensed conduct or activity persists after a civil injunction order is granted, the offending party may be held in contempt of court and face the possibility of heavy penalties and/or imprisonment.

Since BAR expanded disciplinary options to include civil injunctions, there have been a few cases where an applicant’s lack of knowledge regarding licensing requirements have resulted in licensing deficiencies and unlicensed business operations. In these instances, the AG and BAR have worked with the applicants to resolve the license deficiencies and gain proper licensure. There have also been instances of individuals who, despite previous disciplinary actions, have continued operating in defiance of license revocation orders. In cases of such conduct, the disciplinary response is directly escalated to the pursuit of a civil injunction.

Ultimately, BAR’s priority for enforcing unlicensed activity is to pursue compliance through licensure with civil injunctions or criminal prosecution pursued as last resort measures. These and other enforcement operations of the Bureau are designed not only to protect California consumers, but also to promote a fair and competitive automotive repair and Smog Check marketplace.

For additional information, and to view a recording of a presentation on this issue provided at the January 26, 2023 BAR Advisory Group meeting, visit the BAR Advisory Group webpage at

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