Under the new California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) Citation and Fine Program, beginning July 1, 2023, the BAR will be able to issue citations and fines to automotive repair dealers (ARDs) for violations of the Automotive Repair Act, with fines potentially reaching up to $5,000 per violation.
Here is a summary of the key information:
The ARD who receives a citation for violations has the option to file an appeal to have the citation reviewed by a three-member panel composed of one representative each from the BAR, the public and the automotive repair industry. No attorney is required for the appeal process.
ARDs cited for violations considered minor in nature have the option to complete remedial training by a BAR-certified remedial training provider. Successfully completing the training allows the ARD to prevent the public disclosure of the citation on the BAR’s website, where customers can view it.
BAR considers nine (9) key factors* when determining whether to issue a citation and amount of fine in the first place. These factors are:
- Nature and Gravity of the violation: BAR considers the severity of the violation and whether it posed a threat to consumer safety.
- Shop’s Violation History: BAR takes into account the ARD’s history of violations and number of violations found in the investigation.
- Training- Good or Bad faith of the Shop: BAR considers whether the ARD training related to the violation prior to the issuance of citation. If the shop had training in the relevant subject matter, yet still committed a violation, this may weigh in favor of finding “good faith” on the part of a registrant and weigh against issuing a fine. Conversely, if the registrant committed a violation because of inadequate training, this may show “bad faith” and weigh in favor of issuing a fine and factor into the amount of such as fine. This factor is intended to encourage ARDs to proactively train their personnel on BAR’s laws and regulations.
- Failure to Perform Work for which money was Received: BAR considers instances where the ARD received payment but failed to perform services.
- Restitution: BAR looks at whether the ARD has made restitution to the affected customer such as refunding money, and whether they have mitigated or attempted to mitigate any damages or injuries caused by the violation.
- Willful or Inadvertent Error: BAR determines whether the violation was willful or due to inadvertent error.
- Negligence. BAR assesses the level of negligence in the maintenance, care, custody and/or repair of any affected motor vehicle.
- Responsibility of Owners: BAR considers the extent to which the owners, directors, officers, partners, members, trustees or responsible managing employee(s) were involved in the act(s) resulting in the violation(s)
- Cooperation with the BAR Investigation: BAR evaluates the extent to which the ARD cooperated with the Bureau’s investigation.
For more information, please go to the BAR website: https://www.bar.ca.gov/citation
*16 CCR section 3394.51(b)