Impact of State and Local Orders on California Car Dealers and Repair Facilities
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, but dealerships may only provide auto supply and repair services and make online sales of vehicles “if they are delivered to a residence or Essential Business.” Dealers are otherwise prohibited from making car sales or providing car washes. These counties and cities are Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, San Benito County, San Francisco, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, and Sonoma County. Violations of these orders are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of $50 - $1,000 (and up to 90 days imprisonment) under Health and Safety Code section 120295 and residents are cautioned of steeper punishments for violations involving threats or violence against peace officers, which can result in felonies punishable by fines of up to $10,000 (and up to three years imprisonment) under California Penal Code section 69. Monterey County exempts auto supply, repair businesses, and related facilities but “in person” sales are prohibited. Sacramento County and Yolo Countyalso exempt auto supply, repair businesses, and related facilities, but the effect of these orders on sales is unclear. Violations in Monterey County, Sacramento County and Yolo County are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of $50 - $1,000 (and up to 90 days imprisonment) under Health and Safety Code section 120295. In central California, the City of Fresno’s order and Essential Businesses list exempts auto supply and repair businesses but showrooms must be closed. Sales may be done online with home delivery. Fresno does not specify any punishment.
In Southern California, Los Angeles County and Los Angeles City exempt only repair businesses (including dealership service departments). Violations of these orders are misdemeanors punishable by fines of up to $1,000, up to 180 days imprisonment under Health and Safety Code section 120295, Los Angeles County Code section 11.02.080.and Los Angeles Administrative Code sections 8.77 and 8.78 respectively. Orange County and San Bernardino County and San Diego County all defer to the state order. Ventura County exempts auto supply and repair businesses. Dealers may offer such services, and may sell cars online and deliver to people’s homes but showrooms must be closed. The City of Palm Springs and its FAQs exempt auto supply, repair businesses, and related facilities, but in person sales are permitted only to essential businesses or essential workers. Dealers may sell cars online and deliver to residences. 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.
The impact of state and local orders on dealerships and repair facilities is a rapidly changing environment and clients are strongly encouraged to consult with an Arent Fox automotive attorney regarding the latest restrictions in their area.