AB 471 is a multi-faceted piece of legislation created to address consumer protection and transparency within the automotive repair industry.
Among other things, it will significantly enhance state Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) programs for consumers, protect consumers from unsafe salvage vehicle repairs, improve the current citation and fine regulatory program and allow for a more efficient and expediated disciplinary processes.
The California Autobody Association (CAA) supports this bill because it protects consumers, improves the current BAR citation and fine process and streamlines disciplinary hearings while preserving due process.
The bill was authored by California Assembly Member Evan Low (28th Assembly District, San Jose and Silicon Valley.) Last year, AB 2454, also authored by Low, was introduced but paused in order to allow BAR to address the Trusted Dealer Certificate portion of that bill.
To this end, BAR has responded and has successfully developed the Auto Shop Locator, a new mobile-friendly search tool that allows consumers to perform location-based searches for automotive repair dealers, filter results by the type of services needed and quickly verify if a licensee is on probation or the subject of a pending accusation.
One of the goals of AB 471 will be to support and expand the consumer protection and transparency of this platform.
Jack Molodanof, registered lobbyist for CAA and the president of Molodanof Government Relations in Sacramento, CA, has watched this bill as it’s gone through several reincarnations.
Molodanof believes the bill will be good for all automotive repair dealers, including auto body shops, that go by the rules, while making shady operators responsible for subpar repairs.
“One of the goals of AB 471 is to make it easier for consumers to find out which shops have training and educational credentials to properly and safely perform repairs before they decide where to take their vehicles,” he said.
AB 471 will allow BAR to collect additional information from automotive repair dealer application, including educational and training certifications that are nationally recognized and generally accepted by the auto repair industry---ASE, I-CAR, etc. It also will...
...combine the current brake and lamp program and rename it the vehicle safety inspection program, provide BAR the authority to develop additional inspection criteria standards for safety systems through regulations and allow for electronic transmittal of the brake and lamp certificates to DMV.
Among other things, AB 471 will enable BAR to establish a fair appeal process for citation and fines by establishing an independent review panel that includes a consumer, BAR representative and representative from the auto repair industry.
In addition, it will provide for an automotive repair shop that receives a citation to attend educational training, certified by BAR, which will remove the citation from BAR's website, similar to traffic school. The bill will allow BAR to certify these remedial training providers.
It will also allow administrative law judges to be pre-assigned to hear BAR cases.
“This will allow for expediate hearings for auto repair shops rather than having to wait for years to resolve,” Molodanof said.
It will allow BAR to hire in-house attorneys to handle preparation of accusations to revoke auto repair shop licenses, rather than the attorney general.
“This will streamline the current process and resolve cases quicker while maintaining the auto body shop’s right to due process,” he said.
AB 471 also clarifies a person required to have a valid BAR license shall not have the benefit of any lien for labor or materials, including the ability to charge storage fees or right to sue, unless the person possesses a valid BAR license.
Along with CAA, these associations support AB 471 and applaud Low for his leadership in authoring this important legislation: Automotive Service Councils of California, California Automotive Wholesalers’ Association, Auto Care Association, Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality, Automotive Service Association, Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association.